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CHILD SUPPORT

CHILD SUPPORT

Lake of the Woods County works to make sure that children get the support they need.

Child support is the contribution that non-custodial parents make to ensure that their children have adequate care, living expenses and medical support. All of Minnesota’s 87 counties provide child support services, regardless of families’ socioeconomic status.

Lake of the Woods County provides the following primary child support services to residents and people who have been issued a court order in Lake of the Woods County.

  • Establishing paternity / legally naming the father of a child born outside of marriage
  • Establishing a court order for child support
  • Modifying an existing child support order
  • Enforcing an existing child support order
  • Locating parents for child support
  • Identifying and verifying sources of income for child support
  • Collecting and processing payments

Lake of the Woods County cannot do the following:

  • Provide legal advice.
  • Assist with divorce.
  • Assist with custody and parenting time issues.
  • Establish or modify spousal maintenance.
  • Collect extracurricular activities, attorney’s fees, property settlements or bills not related to child support.

Child support defined

Child support includes:

  • Basic support (cash)
  • Child care support (for work or school)
  • Medical support (health care coverage and coverage of costs)
  • Past child support
  • Child support arrears that happen when child support is not paid when due

Examples of what child support does not include:

  • School fees
  • Sports or music lesson fees or expenses
  • Private debt between the parties

To apply for child support services, you must be a resident of Lake of the Woods County or have a Lake of the Woods County court order. If you are a resident of Lake of the Woods County but have a court order from a different county, apply for services in the county that issued the court order.

Fill out a child support application

Child support application – English

There are ways to get an application.

  1. Call 218-634-2642 and ask to speak to the Child Support unit to request an application.
  2. Download an application from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
  3. Pick up an application at our office. 
  4. Apply Online at opens in a new windowSign up for child support services / Minnesota Department of Human Services

Lake of the Woods County Social Services
206 8th Ave SE Suite 200
Baudette MN 56623

Next steps 

Mail or drop off your completed application to our office. There is a secure drop box located outside our entrance for after hours. If possible, include copies of any and all court orders that have been issued regarding paternity, child support or divorce decrees.

Your completed application may take as long as 20 days to process. We will review your case to determine how to proceed. If you have an existing, enforceable court order you will hear from us within 30 days after your case is opened. If court action is needed to determine paternity, or to establish an order for support, you will be contacted for more information.

Child support eligibility

You can receive child support if:

  • You are the child’s parent or a caretaker who has court-ordered custody of the child
  • The child is financially dependent on you or the other parent
  • You or the other parent is not living with the child
  • Paternity needs to be established
  • A child support order needs to be established, modified or enforced

Exempt from application process

You do not need to apply for services if you receive the following forms of public assistance for the child:

  • Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP)
  • Diversionary Work Program (DWP)
  • Tribal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Medical Assistance (MA)
  • Child care assistance
  • Foster Care

Your eligibility worker will refer your case to the child support services section.

Changing an existing child support order

If either parent’s situation changes substantially, he or she may seek a modification.

A notice of the right to review is sent to parents every three years, but there is no need to wait for that notice. Either parent can file a motion to change child support as a self-represented litigant or with the help of an attorney. (If you decide to retain an attorney, let your child support officer know right away.)

As part of the review, Lake of the Woods County will request financial information from both parents and look at information in different systems. Lake of the Woods County will determine if your request meets the requirements for a modification.

Remember: A review could result in an increase or decrease in child support, even if your request is for a decrease.

You can get help completing a pro se motion for modification of your child support order. Review the self-help center information on the Minnesota Ninth Judicial District Lake of the Woods County District Court  website.

You can find the pro se motion paperwork or make a request for an agency review by visiting Child Support ezDocs.

County review

Lake of the Woods County can pursue a modification without a request by a parent if it has information to suggest that a modification is appropriate. For example,Lake of the Woods County can modify (change) a child support order without a parent’s request if a parent is receiving public assistance. If a parent does not want the child support modified, the parent can request a hearing to explain this to the court.

You may send a written request for a review to your child support officer, describing the reason for the request. You also may contact your child support office by phone for more information about the review process.

If both parents agree to a child support amount, Lake of the Woods County can help make the agreement a court order without needing to have a court hearing.

Establishing paternity (legal fatherhood)

Establishing parentage gives a child born outside of marriage a legal father and the same legal rights as a child conceived or born to married parents.

If the parties are not married when the child is born, paternity can be established in one of two ways:

Recognition of parentage (ROP)

If the parents are not married to each other at the time of the child’s conception or birth, paternity can be established through a voluntary Recognition of Parentage (ROP) form signed and filed with the Minnesota Department of Health. Biological parents can sign the ROP at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth or at a county child support office. If the husband is not the biological father, the husband may sign a non-paternity statement, which must be filed with the ROP signed by the mother and biological father.

Before signing a ROP form, parents should watch the following paternity video.

If one of the parents is a minor (under age 18) at the time the ROP is signed, Lake of the Woods County will pursue an in-court adjudication of paternity before requesting child support be established.

In-court adjudication 

If parents are not married to each other at the time of the child’s conception or birth and the biological parents have not signed and filed a ROP, a petition can be filed with the court to get a court order to declare paternity.

What is genetic testing?

County child support offices use a buccal swab to collect DNA from the cells on the inside of the mother’s, father’s and child’s cheek. Genetic testing is available at all county child support offices or can be obtained privately.

For more information about establishing parentage, see the Minnesota Department of Human Services website

Being a legal father

Information from the state courts:

Recognition of Parentage process

Paternity court

Forms:

Recognition of Parentage – English (PDF)

Custody and parenting time

A mother who was not married to the child’s father when the child was conceived or born has sole legal and physical custody of the child until a court orders otherwise. As a general rule, the child support agency does not get involved in custody or parenting time issues.

More information

Minnesota courts: child custody and parenting time

Determining child support amount

Estimate child support with the State of Minnesota’s online calculator. For an accurate estimate, you will need good information about the other parent’s finances.

Child support is based on Minnesota child support guidelines. In addition to both parents’ monthly gross income, the guidelines consider:

  • Potential income if a parent is not working full time
  • Court-ordered child support for non-joint children
  • Court-ordered spousal maintenance
  • A parenting expense adjustment based on the number of court ordered overnights. 
  • A self-support reserve so child support does not exceed the paying parent’s ability to pay according to federal poverty guidelines
  • A minimum basic support amount for paying parents who do not have the ability to pay the child support amount as determined by the guidelines
  • If a parent is incarcerated and has no assets from which to pay child support

The costs of child care and health care are divided between parents, based on each parent’s percentage of income. It is possible that a parent with custody could pay medical support and that amount could be used to decrease the other parent’s child support obligation.

Cost of living adjustment (COLA)

Most child support orders issued in Minnesota include a requirement that the child support amount be adjusted every two years based on changes in the cost of living. Cost of living adjustments are based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This is a standard measure of the inflation rate determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

For more information:

Frequently asked questions on child support cost of living adjustments

Spousal maintenance

Lake of the Woods County will only provide income-withholding services for spousal maintenance-only cases, upon application. Full enforcement services are only available if a child support obligation also is being enforced.

To seek a spousal maintenance-only order, download the paperwork from

MNcourts. The cover letter on the packet will explain how to complete the forms.

Income withholding

Most of the time, support is deducted from a parent’s income source. This process is called income withholding.

Income withholding is the process by which court-ordered child support, spousal maintenance, child care, and/or medical support is deducted from income. Employers are required to report all new hires, which helps child support agencies know when income should be withheld.

Receiving your support payment

Once income withholding papers have been sent to an employer, it may take as long as 45 days to receive a payment. Then, the Minnesota Child Support Payment Center distributes the support to the custodial parent.

If the person paying child support is working for cash or is self-employed it is his or her responsibility to send payments, and we will forward payments as we receive them.

Do not send child support payments directly to the custodial parent. If the custodial parent is paid directly, the Child Support Payment Center has no record of the payment. The child support agency will assume that the noncustodial parent is delinquent, and may take enforcement actions to collect the amount that is not accounted for.

Direct Deposit for Child Support

This form explains the benefits of directly depositing child support to a checking or savings account. It includes a Direct Deposit Authorization form.

Direct Deposit for Child Support (PDF)

Get a Stored Value Card – People who receive child support use this form to sign up to have child support payments loaded to a prepaid U.S. Bank ReliaCard. Stored Value Card (PDF)

Making a child support payment

Child support payment center

The payment center is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Do not send cash. Make the support payments by check or money order, payable to Minnesota Child Support Payment Center.
  • Include your Case # and your MCI/participant number so proper credit is received. If you do not know this information, contact your Child Support Worker.
  • Keep careful records. Noncustodial parents should keep canceled checks or copies of money orders as receipts. If a difference exists between our records and yours, the noncustodial parent may be required to produce receipts as proof of payment.
  • Send all payments to:

MN Child Support Payment Center: P.O. Box 64326 St. Paul, MN 55164-0326

If you receive a direct payment from the other parent, and you receive public assistance:

  • You must contact your Minnesota Family Investment Program worker, child care worker, and/or child support officer immediately. Report the support you received on your household report form. If you live in subsidized housing, you must report your change in income.
  • Sign the payment over to the Minnesota Child Support Payment Center, and include your Social Security number, case number, or participant number on the payment.

Minnesota child support online

You can make secure electronic child support payments from checking and savings accounts through Minnesota child support online (MCSO). Payments made using MCSO will not replace or stop payments made by income withholding. The online payment option is for parents who wish to make additional payments or who wish to make a payment when income withholding is not available.

In order to make payments through MCSO, you must be a registered user. Information on registering your account can be found on the MCSO participant introduction page.

Other options to make child support payments

Pay-Near-Me (a small fee may apply)

Pay with cash at Casey’s, 7-Eleven, CVS & Family Dollar

opens in a new windowSimply download the pay-near me app or contact your Child Support Officer for a bar code.

MoneyGram Payment (a small fee may apply)

opens in a new windowPay with cash at a MoneyGram location, Walmart, CVS Pharmacy or Cub Foods

Use code # 14665

Automatic Withdrawal for Your Child Support Payments

Parents with an open child support case who are not court-ordered to pay by income withholding use this form to authorize automatic recurring withdrawal from their checking or savings account as a payment option. 

Automatic Withdrawal for Your Child Support Payments (PDF)

See all payment options here:  Payment Options Brochure

If child support payments are not made

There are many reasons why child support payments are not made on time. Most often, these reasons are based on the employment situation of the noncustodial parent. As a general rule, if payments are not made, it is because the noncustodial parent is not earning enough income to pay his or her obligations.

If a noncustodial parent does not make the court-ordered payment, the child support office uses enforcement remedies, including:

  • Intercepting federal and state income and property tax refunds and lottery winnings
  • Reporting unpaid balances to credit bureaus
  • Denying passport applications
  • Suspending driver’s and occupational licenses
  • Entering judgments
  • Charging interest 
  • Denying student grants
  • Filing for civil contempt of court
  • Pursuing charges of criminal nonsupport

Medical reimbursement

When the custodial or noncustodial parent requests collection of uninsured and/or unreimbursed medical or dental costs:

  • The child support officer reviews the file and sends you the required forms. You also can use the link below to access these forms. 
  • You will need to complete the forms and submit them to the other party, along with copies of bills, receipts, etc. This includes completing an affidavit of mailing which shows the forms were mailed to the other party.
  • The other party is required to pay the requesting party within 30 days of receiving the forms.
  • If the other party does not pay within the 30 days, the requesting party submits the forms and the affidavit of mailing to our agency.
  • The child support officer will begin the legal process to get reimbursement. During that time, the other party can contest the claim. This process can take several months. The parties do have the option of filing a motion to address these uninsured and/or un-reimbursed medical or dental costs. 

More information:

Medical reimbursement forms

Child care support

If you want to collect child care support, it must be included in your court order. Child care support functions much like basic support, except that the county can end the obligation when the child is no longer in care. In some cases, child care support can be resumed if a child is re-enrolled.

Emancipation

Child support payments usually continue until the child turns 18, unless otherwise ordered by the court. Support may continue until age 20 if a child is still in high school or is disabled.

If the court order is from a state other than Minnesota, the age of emancipation may vary. Contact your child support officer with questions.

If a child emancipates and the noncustodial parent still owes past-due child support, the child support agency will continue collection on the past-due amount.

Closing your child support case

Lake of the Woods County may close a case for several reasons as allowed under federal law. Please consult your assigned child support agent if you have questions about why your case is closing.

If you are the applicant for services, you may request to have your case closed by contacting your child support officer by phone or by sending a written request. However, the following conditions must be met:

  • No public assistance arrears are owed and the requesting parent does not receive Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) payments, Medical Assistance or child care assistance.
  • The court has determined that payment of support directly to the custodial parent is in the best interests of the children or that the child support obligation is satisfied in another way.

You may use this document to send a written request for closure: Request to close support case.

Send your request to:

Lake of the Woods County Social Services Department: 206 8th Ave SE Suite 200 Baudette MN 56623

Other states

Lake of the Woods County can help establish paternity and child support orders, and set up child support collection, even when parents of a child live in different states. The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) was set up to help child support agencies in different states to establish and enforce child support orders.

If you live outside of Minnesota and need help to get child support from a Minnesota resident, apply for child support services in the county and state where you live.

When more than one state is involved in child support enforcement, it may take longer to process your case. This means that child support collection will take longer than it does when both parents live in the same state.

Learn how to change your child support order, based on the state where you live:

U.S. office of child support enforcement interactive map

More information

Minnesota child support payment online

Child support brochures

For additional information visit: http://www.childsupport.dhs.state.mn.us/

Minnesota District Courts

Minnesota Child Support Online

Child Support ezDocs

Working with us

We are here to serve both parents for the benefit of their children. To do this, we need to work together. As parents, you can help by being active participants in your case.

  • Keep your child support worker informed of any changes. These changes might include addresses, phone numbers, employment (jobs), court ordered custody and parenting time, divorce, incarceration and injury or illness.
  • Come to court. Bring to court copies of anything you have that proves your income, expenses or inability to work. If you cannot make your court hearing, call your child support officer to see if you can change the date.
  • Open your mail. Open every envelope that comes from the state or county child support office or the county attorney’s office.
  • Fill out and return paperwork we send you.
  • Return our phone calls. We may be trying to contact you to settle the case without the need to serve you with papers at your home or work. We may need some information that may help your case.
  • Call us when you have questions. If you are not satisfied, ask to speak to a supervisor.
  • Ask for a review of your case when you think something should change.
  • If you cannot make a full payment, pay what you can and call your child support worker to let him/her know you cannot pay the full payment.

SOCIAL SERVICES INFORMATION

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SOCIAL SERVICES
DIRECTOR

Amy S. Ballard
206 8th Ave SE, Suite #200
amy_b@co.lotw.mn.uscreate new email

PHONE: 634-2642
FAX: 634-4520

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SATISFACTION SURVEY

Please fill out our satisfaction survey by clicking the button below.

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HOURS

The Social Services Office is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. To file a child protection report after hours, call Law Enforcement at 218-634-1143 or our after hours children’s emergency response number at 218-395-0177. We accept collect calls before 4:30 pm.