What is Potential Income in the context of child support?

Currently under Minnesota law, if a parent is voluntarily unemployed, underemployed, or employed on a less than full-time basis, or there is no direct evidence of any income, child support must be calculated based on a determination of potential income. Potential income can be calculated in one of three ways:
1. The parent's probable earnings level based on employment potential, recent work history, and occupational qualifications in light of prevailing job opportunities and earnings levels in the community.
2. If a parent is receiving unemployment compensation or workers' compensation, that parent's income may be calculated using the actual amount of the unemployment compensation or workers' compensation benefit received.
3. The amount of income a parent could earn working full time at 150 percent of the current federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher.

The third method is likely the most common method used in child support calculations. However, a bill introduced in this legislative session would revise the third method of the potential income calculation instead to read: “the amount of income a parent could earn working 30 hours per week at 100% of the current federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher.” This change could affect many child support calculations as it can mean a difference between $2,078 per month and $1,039 per month in potential income.

For More Information

Family Law

Child Support

Parenting Time

Divorce

Paternity

Stepparent Adoption