Child support is money that is ordered to be paid to one parent by another for the benefit of their child or children. Sometimes people wonder if they can simply buy things like clothes and food for their child directly and reduce their child support accordingly. Perhaps they don’t trust the other parent to use the money properly, or maybe they have purchased expensive items for the child and feel that it is only fair that they get “credit” toward what they owe.
Although the reason for wanting to provide goods in lieu of cash may (or may not) be reasonable, doing so is not allowed. Minnesota law uses a method of calculating child support called "Income Shares." The Child Support Guidelines use both parents' gross income, the number of children, and the relative share of parenting time to calculate a presumptive amount of basic child support. Medical support and child-care support are then added to determine the total amount of monthly child support due. The amount of child support set forth in your Decree or Order is what you legally owe.
You can certainly buy clothing, food, school supplies, and other things for your child. Doing so, if you are able, is a nice gesture and may help your child. In response, the other parent may even agree to let you reduce the amount of child support you pay. This is fine, so long as everyone agrees and KEEPS AGREEING. When problems arise is when the agreement, or the relationship between the parents, breaks down.
REMEMBER, until further order of the Court, you are legally liable for the monthly amount of child support required by your Decree. Any informal agreement to the contrary is not legally enforceable. In other words, even if you have provided thousands of dollars in goods for your child, and the other parent has agreed to let you reduce your child support accordingly, if there is no court order to that effect you still legally owe any unpaid amounts, and the other parent can still ask the Court to force you to pay.
This does NOT mean that you shouldn’t buy things that your child needs; it simply means that you should not expect your child support obligation to be lessened as a result.
To discuss child support, or any family law matter, call Kruse Family Law PLLC at 612.231.9865, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Buying things for your child is nice, but it will not reduce your child support obligation.