Like most other states, Tennessee has a specific formula that family courts use when determining how much financial support a child’s parents will be expected to provide. Importantly, though, these “Child Support Guidelines” are truly guidelines more than rules written in stone, and there are many situations where a court might find cause to order a different amount of support than what the guidelines suggest.
With that in mind, calculating child support in Hamilton County can actually be a deceptively complicated process depending on the circumstances. Fortunately, help is available from a dedicated child support attorney at our firm with the expertise and experience necessary to ensure you understand your rights and obligations.
There are two primary factors that go into basic child support calculations in Hamilton County and throughout Tennessee: each parent’s adjusted gross income, and the total number of children they had together. When calculating child support, “income” includes all of the following forms:
A parent deemed to be intentionally underemployed or unemployed may have income “imputed” to them based on what they could reasonably earn with their experience and training.
If applicable, child support obligations that a non-custodial parent owes to children from another marriage or relationship may be factored into this basic calculation as a deduction from their adjusted gross income. Other excluded types of income include benefits from Families First or similar public assistance programs, any Adoption Assistance subsidy, and any income brought in by the child—for example, Social Security benefits based on a child’s disability.
The basic child support obligation in Hamilton County is calculated by combining both parents’ adjusted gross income and plugging that figure into the schedule provided in the state guidelines. Each parent would then be responsible to provide a proportional amount of that basic obligation based on how much of their combined adjusted gross income they individually account for, and sometimes on the share of parenting time and/or custody rights each parent has.
Courts in Tennessee operate on a “rebuttable presumption” that the amount of child support provided by the guidelines is an appropriate amount to incorporate into a child support order. Importantly, though, “rebuttable” in this context means that a parent who believes the amount suggested by the guidelines would be unfair and not in service to the child’s best interests may petition the court for a modification prior to the order being issued. Based on special factors like travel costs between parents who live far apart from each other or extraordinary medical or education expenses, courts have discretion to adjust the amount of support ordered as they see fit.
While it is relatively simple to get a rough estimate of how much child support you may have to pay each month, quantifying the exact obligations you will have following a court hearing can be much more difficult. Guidance from legal counsel can be crucial to getting a precise prediction of what your obligations will look like, as well as with pursuing a preferable court order with that amount in mind.
Calculating child support in Hamilton County is one of many legal matters a seasoned lawyer at our firm could assist with. Call today to learn more.