When is it necessary to establish parentage?
If a mother is not married at the time of the child’s birth, her child does not have a legal father. Establishing parentage is necessary to give her child a legal father.
Why establish parentage?
Establishing parentage gives a child a legal father. Children with legal fathers may have rights to benefits through their fathers, including social security benefits, veteran’s benefits, tribal registration benefits, health care coverage, workers’ compensation benefits and inheritance rights. Children may also benefit by knowing their biological, cultural and medical histories.
Your child’s legal parentage must be established before the court will issue an order for support.
How is parentage established?
Parentage can be established in two ways:
- Recognition of Parentage (ROP): If the parents agree, and the mother is not married to the biological father, they can voluntarily sign a form called the Minnesota Recognition of Parentage (DHS-3159). Signing the form and filing it with the Minnesota Department of Vital Statistics legally establishes the father and child relationship. If the parents are not sure that the man is the biological father of the child, they can have genetic testing done. Genetic testing can determine if a man is a child’s biological father.
- Court Order: A court can determine parentage. Before determining parentage, a court order may require genetic testing. Both the mother and the alleged father may have to testify at the court hearing.
Establishing child support orders
All parents, whether or not they are married, are responsible for the support of their children. This support may include child support, medical support and/or child care support. Support orders make obligors legally responsible to pay support for their children.
How is a support order established?
A court issues a support order that states the amount of support an obligor must pay. The court enters the order into its records. The order may be part of a separation, divorce, establishment or paternity action. The support an obligor is ordered to pay is often a monthly amount.
How can I change my support order?
Support orders can be changed in two ways:
- Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA): Most Minnesota support orders require a cost-of-living adjustment every two years based on the consumer price index. The county child support agency will process the cost-of-living adjustment on May 1 of the appropriate year. If you are the obligor and disagree with the cost-of-living adjustment, you have the right to request a hearing before May 1 of the appropriate year. You will receive a notice explaining the procedure.
- Court-ordered modifications: Either parent may request in writing that the child support agency review their support order for modification. The written request should state the reasons for the review. The county child support staff will determine whether the existing order meets the standards for review. If it does, they will complete the review and file a motion asking the court to modify the order. If the case does not meet the standards, the county child support agency will notify the parent who requested the review. If the parent still wants the order changed, the parent can file a motion asking the court to modify the order.
Locating the other parent
To establish, modify or enforce a support order, the child support agency must have a current address or employment information for the other parent. If the location of a parent is not known, the child support agency uses many tools to locate the address and employer of the other parent.
Social Security numbers help the child support agency locate addresses and employment information. Social Security numbers are shown on tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. Providing this useful information helps the child support agency carry out its duties more efficiently.
Collecting and enforcing support orders
What is income withholding?
Most support obligations are collected through income withholding from wages. Once the child support agency identifies the obligor’s employer or payor of funds, they send a notice to withhold support. Employers have 14 days to process an order or notice to withhold. Employers must begin withholding no later than the first pay period following this 14-day time period. Employers must continue withholding until the child support agency notifies them in writing of any changes to the order.
The child support agency makes collecting current support a priority. The child support agency also collects past due support. Past due support has an interest rate at two percent (2%) above the statutory judgment rate. Judgments for fees and spousal support have an interest rate at the statutory judgment rate and are not subject to the two percent (2%) additional interest rate.
What happens to support collected on my case if I receive public assistance?
If you or your children receive MFIP, you will receive any current child support collected in the month that it is due. The state will keep support paid on arrears to reimburse MFIP issued to you and your children.
If you or your children receive DWP, MinnesotaCare, MA or Child Care Assistance, you will receive the current child support collected in the month that it is due, but you will not receive the medical and/or child care support collected for that month.
How do I receive the support collected?
The child support agency collects the support from the obligor. In most cases, the child support agency sends the support collected and owed to the obligee within two (2) days. Funds collected through certain tax intercepts may be held for up to six months to make sure the refund was properly intercepted. Once you apply for services, all support payments must come through the State. If you receive a support payment from the obligor, you must tell your child support worker. You may be asked to send the payment to the Child Support Payment Center so that it can be disbursed according to federal guidelines.
For up-to-the-minute case and payment information, you can go online at: www.childsupport.dhs.state.mn.us. You can also call the Child Support Payment Line at (800) 657-3512 outside the Twin Cities metro area, or (651) 215-5630 in the Twin Cities metro area, or TTY/TDD at (888) 234-1208 outside the Twin Cities metro area, or (651) 215-5629 in the Twin Cities metro area. To get information, you must know your personal identification number (PIN) that the child support agency will assign to you.
What are my direct deposit choices?
To increase the efficiency, convenience, speed and safety of payments to you, the state sends support by direct deposit. Through direct deposit, you may choose to have your support payments electronically deposited into a checking account, savings account or stored value card account. After your support case is open, the child support office will send you more information on how to set up direct deposit.
How are payments applied to my case?
Federal and state regulations govern how payments are applied. The child support agency applies payments according to these rules. Most payments collected pay current support first.
If an obligor owes support to more than one family, the child support agency divides payments among the families. After current support is paid for the month it is due, other payments received that month pay past due support.
Funds collected from federal tax refunds pay past due support or debts. These funds may be applied to past due amounts or debts owed to the State. If the State keeps any funds, the child support agency will send you a Notice of Collection of Child Support.
How does the child support agency collect arrears?
The child support agency may take certain enforcement actions to collect support. Enforcement actions include:
- Federal and State tax refund intercepts
- Lottery winnings intercept
- Passport denial
- Credit bureau reporting
- License suspension
- Driver’s license
- Occupational license
- Recreational license
- Student grant holds
- Financial institution data match
The child support agency has the right to decide what action to take on your case and to decide which county is best able to provide services to you. If all other enforcement actions have been unsuccessful, the county may ask the court to find the obligor in constructive civil contempt.
What is the attorney/applicant relationship?
Applying for support services does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and the child support attorney. The child support attorney represents the child support agency. You have the right to your own attorney and may hire one at any time. You may also decide to represent yourself.
You must report changes that may affect your case. Contact your child support worker if you or the other parent:
- Changes phone numbers
- Changes jobs
- Applies for public assistance
- Receives a notice of other court actions regarding support payments
- Loses your medical or dental insurance
- Changes health care providers
- Makes a support payment to the obligee
- Receives a support payment from the obligor.
You must also contact your child support worker if the living arrangements of your children change.
Minnesota Child Support Application