Potential income and child support

In order to calculate the amount of child support that should be ordered in Minnesota, the amount of each parent’s gross monthly income needs to be determined.

Sometimes it is easy to determine each parent’s income for child support purposes. For example, when a parent earns a regular salary each month as a W-2 employee, there aren’t a lot of questions about the amount of their income.

What if a parent is not employed OR what if a parent is voluntarily underemployed?

In Minnesota there is a rebuttable presumption that a parent can be gainfully employed on a full-time basis. See Minn. Stat. §518A.32 subd. 1.

If a parent is unemployed or voluntarily underemployed, then child support is typically calculated on the basis of potential income. See Minn. Stat. §518A.32 subd. 1.

How is potential income calculated? (1) Based on the parent’s probable earnings; (2) The actual amount of unemployment compensation or workers’ compensation benefit received; or (3) the amount they would earn by working 30 hours per week at a job that pays minimum wage. See Minn. Stat. §518A.32 subd. 2.


Elizabeth Rosar Chermack is a lawyer who practices family law in Minnesota, and can represent you in your child support case.   Call (952) 491-0390 or send an email to liz@chermacklaw.com to schedule a consultation with her.

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