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Basics about child support and services available

Child support is money a parent is court-ordered to pay to their child's other parent or caregiver for the support of the child. The support may be part of an interim, temporary, permanent or modified court order in a:

  • Divorce or legal separation
  • Parentage action
  • Order for protection
  • Child custody action
  • Separate child support action.

A person can receive child support if all of the following apply:

  • The person is the parent of a minor child or is the person who has court-ordered custody of the minor child.
  • The minor child lives in the person's household.
  • The child is financially dependent on that person.
  • One or both of the child's parents are absent from the home.
  • A court has ordered a child's parent to pay child support.

Child support services are available to:

  • Parents of minor children, if one parent does not live with the child
  • Parents who pay child support through court-ordered income withholding
  • People who have court-ordered, physical custody of a minor child
  • People who receive public assistance for a minor child who lives in their home.

Learn more about two options for child support services for which you can apply.

Child support offices provide services for:

Child support offices do not help with:

  • Divorces
  • Parenting time and custody
  • Spousal maintenance (alimony) establishment
  • Legal advice or counsel.

Child support offices and county attorneys do not represent either parent in child support court actions. Instead, they represent the best interests of the child according to the requirements of child support statutes and guidelines. In Minnesota, parents can also use an expedited process to resolve child support matters where they can represent themselves.

Parents' rights and responsibilities

Appendix A is a court document attached to every child support order in Minnesota. It tells parents their rights and responsibilities under the law. More information about working with your child support office, reporting changes in your circumstances and other responsibilities is online.

Private information

Anyone can ask for public child support data. Case-specific information is classified as private data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The Act restricts child support workers from sharing case information unless they are authorized.

Private data on individuals or nonpublic data not on individuals can be given to:

  • The person who is the subject of the data
  • Others who the law says can see the data
  • Anyone the person who is the subject of the data says, in writing, can see the data.

Releasing private information

If you want the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the county child support office to give private information about your child support case to a third party, such as your current spouse, attorney, relative or friend, you must authorize it. Complete the Authorization for Release of Child Support Information to a Third Party (PDF) to allow private information to be released. Fax or mail the authorization to the child support worker you want to release the information.

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