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How Much Will I Pay in Child Support?

Child Support
When two people decide to divorce, one of the most important issues that arises is how to take care of the children. Fortunately, especially for high-conflict divorces, the court has the authority to decide what each parent will contribute toward child support.

Generally, both parents are required to participate in caring for their children. Failure to pay child support can attract civil or criminal penalties. Divorcing parents should understand how child support works in order to make an appropriate financial plan.

Read on to learn more about child support payment.

Tennessee Child Support Guidelines

In Tennessee, the court expects both parents to pay child support. The precise amount you will pay will depend on several factors, including each parent's gross income and the amount of time each parent spends with the child.

Other factors that will affect the amount of child support you will pay include the number of children and related expenses, including healthcare insurance and daycare.

The courts use the Child Support Guidelines established by the state to determine the amount each parent needs to pay toward child support.

Time Spent With Each Parent

The first step in establishing the payable amount in child support is to determine the custodial parent. The custodial parent is the one who spends over 50 percent of the time with the children.

The court usually requires that child custody is paid to the custodial parent. This is because this parent is primarily in charge of the day-to-day responsibilities of caring for the children.

Adjusted Gross Income

The next step is determining the adjusted gross income for each parent. In the context of child support payments, your adjusted monthly gross income includes your income from employment, business, or any other source plus any federal benefits you receive minus self-employment tax, childcare tax credits, and any other deductions.

To determine how much each parent needs to pay in monthly child support, both parents' adjusted gross incomes are added together. For example, if your gross income is $2000 and that of your co-parent is $3,500, the total adjusted gross income would be $5,500.

Say the court determines that each child needs $1,500 a month in support. Your contribution to the total adjusted gross income is 36% ($2,000 is 36% of $5, 500). This means you will pay $540 in child support and your co-parent will pay the remaining balance of $960.

You and your co-parent will pay for other expenses such as healthcare insurance based on the sum of your adjusted gross income using the same formula above.

Number of Children

In addition to other factors such as the actual financial needs of each child, the court may consider the number of dependent children you have to determine the appropriate amount of child support you need to pay. This is also known as the basic child support obligation.

If you are financially responsible for children from another relationship, for example, the court may consider reducing your child support payment. However, the court is not obligated to lower your child support payment, and you should be prepared to take care of the financial needs of all your children.

If you believe the state guidelines and the court order on child support payment are unfavorable, you may ask the court for a modification. The court will only agree to modify your payments if you provide very good reasons — for example, if you lose a significant portion of your income.

A lot goes into establishing the amount of child support each parent should pay. Although the court uses the state's guidelines to determine each parent's obligation, the children's best interest is always a priority.

If you need help ironing out child support issues with your co-parent or with any aspect of your divorce proceedings, get in touch with the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Martin A. Kooperman, Attorney at Law.