How Does Tennessee Determine Child Support?

Tennessee law requires both parents to provide financial support for minor children. If you have ended your marriage or have not married your child’s other parent, you can request that the state’s Department of Human Services create a child support order, enforce an existing order, locate a noncustodial parent and/or determine paternity.

These factors influence the court-orderedĀ child support amount for minors in Tennessee:

Determining adjusted gross income

The state uses a simple worksheet to calculate the amount of child support. Required information includes:

  • Both parents’ income
  • Federal benefits that the child receives
  • Self-employment tax that either parent pays

Parents will also receive a credit for other minor children, whether they have custody of or pay support for those children. If another child lives with the parent at least 50% of the time, the parent can deduct 75% of the cost of supporting that child from the parent’s income. If the parent pays support but does not live with another child, the parent can deduct 75% of the average monthly child support payment for that child from his or her income.

Together, these factors create the parents’ combined adjusted gross income.

Understanding basic child support obligation

Tennessee uses a chart to determine the basic child support obligation depending on adjusted gross income. For example, if you and the child’s other parent earn a combined AGI of $2,000 a month, the BCSO would be $421.

The judge will adjust this amount depending on whether the noncustodial parent shares regular parenting time. If the noncustodial parent spends at least 12 hours with the child at least 92 days a year, he or she will receive a credit for support. The custodial parent receives a credit when the other parent spends at least 12 hours with the child on fewer than 68 days in a year.

The court then adds these costs to the adjusted BCSO:

  • Medical insurance premiums for the child
  • Uninsured medical expenses for the child
  • Daycare costs

You can calculate your child support obligation or expectation using theĀ online tool from Tennessee DHS. Remember, however, that the judge may adjust the final amount at his or her discretion.