Child Support Laws in Tennessee
Calculating child support payments
Under Tennessee child support law, parents are required to support their children financially. When parents are not together, one parent typically maintains custody of the child for a larger portion of the time while the other pays child support to equalize his or her financial contribution to the child’s upbringing. When you need help with child support issues, the Stover Law Group can provide skilled legal advocacy.
The law in Tennessee employs the income shares model, meaning that both parents’ incomes are considered when calculating support payments. The combined amount parents are expected to spend on their child each month, known as the Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO), is meant to cover expenses such as food, housing, transportation, clothing, entertainment, basic educational necessities and other day-to-day costs. You can calculate this figure in three steps:
- Add up the gross income of each parent. Gross income is comprised of any moneys from any source, whether earned or unearned, before taxes and other deductions. The long list of items included in gross income includes wages, salaries, commission, tips, pensions or retirement plans, bonuses, disability benefits, workers compensation benefits and prize winnings.
- Calculate each parent’s adjusted gross income (AGI) by subtracting any applicable credits for self-employment or other children being supported by each parent (not step-children). The credits are calculated by taking a percentage of each parent’s average monthly expenditures for each of the credits.
- Add both parents’ AGIs together and cross reference the resulting figure with the Child Support Schedule.
Once you know the BCSO for your child, divide the figure by each parent’s AGI to determine the share of the BCSO each of you owes. Finally, to determine who owes whom child support and how much (if any), consult your parenting plan or custody arrangement and adjust that number based on the parenting time each of you spends.
Deviation and modification
Under certain unusual circumstances, child support orders might require further adjustment. Deviations from the regular formula typically occur when the child requires extraordinarily high additional expenses for education or extracurricular activities, if the parents are low income or facing economic hardship, or if the parents have abnormally low income.
Additionally, support laws in Tennessee allow for a child support order modification if the situation of either the parents or the children changes drastically enough so that the original arrangement is no longer effective or impossible to afford.
I am an experienced Nashville family attorney who knows how to help you with all aspects of your child support case, including calculating the amount owed, deviating from the standard formula and modifying an order.
Choose a child support attorney who understands the process
To learn more about the Tennessee child support laws and legal services I offer, call the Stover Law Group at 615.613.0541 or contact me online to schedule a free initial phone consultation. I represent clients in Nashville and throughout Middle Tennessee, including Murfreesboro, Clarksville, Gallatin, Shelbyville and Lebanon.