Legal Memorandum: Gross Income for Child Support Obligation

Issue: Whether a child support obligor’s receipt of regular cash contributions and expenses in kind from family members constitutes income that must be considered in determining or adjusting the amount of the obligor’s child support obligation in Minnesota.

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Child support; Gross income; Cash contributions and expenses
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: 645 N.W.2d 747; 476 N.W.2d 795
Cited Statutes: Minn. Stat. § 518A.29(a); Minn. Stat. § 518A.30; Minn. Stat. § 518A.31; Minn. Stat. § 518A.32; Minn. Stat. § 518A.29(c)
Date: 05/01/2012

The following authorities are instructive:

Minn. Stat. § 518A.29(a) (“gross income includes any form of periodic payment to an individual, including, but not limited to, salaries, wages, commissions, self-employment income under section 518A.30, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, annuity payments, military and naval retirement, pension and disability payments, spousal maintenance received under a previous order or the current proceeding, Social Security or veterans benefits provided for a joint child under section 518A.31, and potential income under section 518A.32.”);

Minn. Stat. § 518A.29(c) (“Expense reimbursements or in-kind payments received by a parent in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business shall be counted as income if they reduce personal living expenses.”);

Barnier v. Wells, 476 N.W.2d 795 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991) (“a regular, systematic gift cannot be classified as an enforceable obligation; a person is not forced to give a gift.  Thus an expected gift is not always a resource subject to child support.  However, if a gift is regularly received from a dependable source, it may properly be used to determine the amount of a child support obligation.”);

In Re Long, No. CX-95-43, 1995 Minn. App. LEXIS 1010 (Minn. Ct. App. Aug. 8, 1995)  (unpublished) (Obligor whose girlfriend and mother paid monthly bills so that obligor could meet daily living expenses received regular gifts from a dependable source under Barnier).

Viele v. Viele, No. A09-1950, 2010 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 509 (Minn. Ct. App. Jun. 8, 2010) (unpublished) (Obligor’s rent-free use […]

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