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What happens after the decree is final, the divorce is over, and the dust settles? Ideally, families should settle into the routine of their "new normal." Parenting time would take place as agreed, and child support would be promptly and fully paid. The reality, of course, is that things often don't go as planned. So what do you do if, in the months following your divorce, your ex isn't living up to the terms of the child support or parenting time order?
At the time that Minnesota child support laws were changed so that the courts no longer used custody labels to determine who got child support, the legislature put in place a six-month review post-dissolution for those parents who promised they would take the children 50% of the time in order to secure a steep reduction in child support, and who then never met that obligation.
In Minnesota, every divorce judgment or family court order that deals with the issue of parenting time, custody, or child support has attached to it a form and instructions allowing either party to ask for a review of the order after a six month period. Though the hearing takes place after six months, the request for a hearing must be made within six months of the entry of the order. Parties are not required to have a hearing, but if they want one, the process is designed to make getting before the court as simple as possible.
When the court administrator receives a completed request form, a six-month review hearing must be scheduled as soon as reasonably possible. At the six-month review hearing, the court must review whether both parties are complying with the parenting time provisions of the court order and are current in the child support.
With regard to child support, the burden of showing that support payments are current falls on the obligor (person paying support). To support his or her position, the obligor may request from the child support enforcement office documentation of payments made. This request must be made at least fourteen days before the hearing.
If, at the six-month review hearing, the court finds that child support is not current or that parents are not abiding by the terms of the parenting time agreement, it may hold a non-compliant party in contempt of court. The court may also impose other remedies permitted by statute, including docketing a civil judgment against a child support obligor when payments are in arrears; suspending the obligor's driver license, recreational license, or professional license; having a lien imposed on the obligor's motor vehicle; garnishments; denial of passport applications, and more. It also has the power to set child support based on the actual parenting time being exercised by the offending party.
Courts will not change child support obligations or parenting time orders at the six-month review hearing unless a separate motion is filed. However, the remedies available to the court can serve as a strong incentive to child support obligors to comply with existing orders.
If a few months have passed since your divorce or separation decree or entry of an order for parenting time and child support, and your ex is not abiding by the terms of the order, get the help of an experienced Minnesota child support attorney. Please contact us at Mundahl Law with any questions you have about a six-month review hearing. We look forward to working with you.