How Is Child Support Calculated in Tennessee?

If you are contemplating divorce in Tennessee and you have minor children with your spouse, issues relating to your children will likely play a pivotal role in your divorce. Specifically, you will likely be ordered to pay child support, or you will be entitled to receive child support from the other parent. In Tennessee, the calculation of child support is governed by specific guidelines aimed at providing a fair and equitable support arrangement for the child’s benefit. To provide you with some idea what to expect, a Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains how child support is calculated in a Tennessee divorce.

The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines

Like most states, Tennessee follows the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. This model is based on the idea that children should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received if the parents lived together. The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines provide a standardized approach to calculating child support to ensure that the same factors are used whenever child support is ordered.

Factors Influencing Child Support Calculations

If you are concerned about how child support will be calculated in your Tennessee divorce, it is always best to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that your unique circumstances are considered. There are, however, several common factors that are used when calculating child support in Tennessee, including:

  • Income of Both Parents: The primary factor in determining child support is the combined income of both parents which typically includes wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, and other forms of income such as rental income, dividends, and pensions.
  • Parenting Time: The amount of time each parent spends with the child, referred to as “parenting time,” is another important factor when determining child support. The parent who pays child support (usually the “Alternative Residential Parent”) can typically be given “credits” for the number of overnights that the children spend with that parent.
  • Number of Children: The number of children requiring support is directly proportional to the amount of child support, meaning the child support order will typically be higher when there are more children involved.
  • Additional Expenses: Child support calculations can also account for additional expenses such as healthcare, education, and childcare costs because these expenses are considered necessary to maintain the child’s standard of living and well-being.
  • Pre-existing Support Obligations: If either parent has existing support obligations from previous relationships, these can impact the child support calculation for the current case.

What Is the Process for Calculating Child Support in Tennessee? 

To give you a general idea of how much child support is likely to be ordered in your case, follow these steps:

  1. Determine Gross Income: The first step in the calculation is determining the gross income of both parents, including all sources of income before taxes and other deductions.
  2. Adjust for Mandatory Deductions: Certain mandatory deductions, such as taxes, health insurance premiums, and existing child support payments for other children, are subtracted from the gross income to arrive at the net income.
  3. Combine Net Income: The net incomes of both parents are then combined to determine the total income available for child support.
  4. Determine Each Parent’s Percentage of Income: Each parent’s contribution to the combined income is expressed as a percentage. For example, if you earn $4,000 per month and your spouse earns $6,000 per month, your combined income is $10,000. Your percentage of the combined income is 40 percent and your spouse’s percentage is 60 percent.
  5. Apply the Guidelines: Use the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines to determine the basic child support obligation. This amount is based on the combined income and the number of children.
  6. Adjust for Parenting Time and Additional Expenses: The basic child support obligation is then adjusted based on the amount of parenting time each parent has and any additional expenses such as healthcare, education, and childcare.

It is crucial to keep in mind that while Tennessee does use the established guidelines, it is possible to deviate from the Guidelines under certain circumstances. This is one of the many reasons you should consult with an experienced Tennessee divorce attorney if you are concerned about how much child support will be ordered in your divorce.

Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer

If you have additional questions about child support or divorce in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Dinah Michael