Entering a new year provides a good opportunity to review family finances. As anyone who pays household expenses knows, costs tend to rise from year to year. Because of inflation, we typically pay more for food, clothing, and other necessities, meaning that the amount of money you may receive for child support or spousal maintenance doesn’t go as far as it used to.
The good news is that if you receive support or maintenance payments from your ex, you are likely eligible for a cost-of-living-adjustment (“COLA”) every two years. If you are unsure whether or not you are entitled to a COLA, you should check your child support order or divorce decree. In most instances, this information is in a document called “Appendix A” attached to the end of the order or decree
The amount of the adjustment to which you are entitled is based upon the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”). Any family law attorney will be able to make the calculation for your. If you prefer to do it yourself, the Minnesota Office on the Economic Status of Women provides a COLA form that will walk you through the steps in calculating the amount of your adjustment.
If you receive full-service support from your county child support office, the county office will automatically apply a COLA to eligible cases on May 1 of the applicable year. If the county is not involved, or you get income withholding-only services, you will need to provide notice of the proposed COLA to the person paying child support or maintenance. If you don’t, you miss out on the COLA.
After you provide notice, the adjustment automatically takes effect unless the person who pays files a motion to stop the COLA, based on the fact that his or her income did not increase in line with inflation. In such cases, the court will determine whether or not the COLA should take effect.
To discuss a COLA or any family law matter, call Kruse Family Law at 612.231.9865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.