When a child is born, both the parents are blessed with both the benefits of parenthood and the responsibilities. Most parents believe those duties and responsibilities last for a lifetime. In the eyes of the law, however, they last until the child reaches the age of majority (18). As such, if the parents do not live together during that time period, the law imposes a financial obligation on both parents to ensure that they continue to contribute to the child’s care and maintenance. If you are the parent of a minor child, and you are contemplating divorce, you may be wondering how much child support you will be entitled to post-divorce if you plan to be the child’s Primary Residential Parent. To give you an idea of what to expect, a Murfreesboro child support lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains how child support is calculated in Tennessee.
Understanding the Legal Terminology
Before discussing how child support is calculated in Tennessee, you need to understand some of the legal terminology. The law no longer uses the terms “custodial” and “non-custodial” when referring to a parent’s status with regard to a minor child. Instead, the parent who pays child support is typically the “Alternative Residential Parent (ARP)” while the parent who receives child support is usually the “Primary Residential Parent (PRP).” The PRP is the parent with whom the child lives the majority of the time while the ARP is the parent who exercises “parenting time” with the child. The law also no longer uses the term “visitation.”
Understanding the Purpose of a Parenting Plan
You also need to know more about the Parenting Plan you will submit to the court as part of your divorce because child support is one of the issues that must be included in the plan. Your rights and responsibilities as a parent are set forth in a Parenting Plan at the time of a divorce. Ideally, the parties are able to decide on the terms of the Parenting Plan without the need for the court’s intervention. When that is the case, those terms are reduced to writing within the plan and the entire Parenting Plan is submitted to the court for approval. In the event that the parents cannot decide on the terms, the court will do so. The overall purpose of a Parenting Plan is to create a roadmap for the parents to follow post-divorce that will help them to better parent the minor child.
Calculating Child Support in Tennessee
Ultimately, the amount of child support the ARP pays is determined using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines are lengthy and complex; however, the basic concept is simple. Because both parents are required to contribute to the cost of raising the child, the income of both parents is combined into a theoretical “pot.” Each parent is assigned a percentage of the pot. For example, if you earn $3,000 a month and your spouse earns $7,000, there is a combined total of $10,000 available to the child. Your share of the total is 30 percent and your spouse’s share is 70 percent. At this point, you must refer to the Guidelines to determine how much of the combined income should be made available to the child. For instance, let’s assume the Guidelines indicate that of the $10,000 earned by both parents each month, $3,000 should be used for the care and maintenance of the child. Your share of the $3,000 each month is $900 ($3,000 x 0.30 = $900) while the other parent would be responsible for the remaining 70 percent, or $2,100. If no other deductions or credits applied, child support would then be ordered in the amount of $2,100 payable from the ARP to the PRP. The ARP, however, may get credits for things such as paying for the child’s health insurance or for the number of overnights the child spends with the parent.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Support Lawyer
If you want a more detailed evaluation of the child support amount you are likely entitled to in a Tennessee divorce, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child support lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.