How is child support calculated in Tennessee?

By Jorie Zajicek and Ryan C. Davis

How is child support calculated? Child support calculations in Tennessee are complicated, but essentially the court will determine the parties' incomes and will establish a total "household" income. A parenting schedule is then established, resulting in the total number of days each parent will exercise parenting time. The total household income is then divided between those parenting days, to provide a consistent standard of living for the child regardless of which home they are in.

The following factors determine child support:

  1. The gross income of each parent;
  2. The amount of time each parent spends with the child(ren); and
  3. The number of children being supported.

The Income of Each Parent:

In the simplest case, your gross income will be found on your W-2 form. However, in some cases determining income can be more difficult. As a general rule, income includes all money from whatever source received and includes things such as gambling winnings, disability payments, workers’ compensation payments, and money received from personal injury lawsuits or claims.

The Amount of Time Each Parent Spends with The Child:

Typically, the more time a parent spends with the child, the less that parent is required to pay in child support. The logic is that parents will be spending money to support their children’s needs and wellbeing when they are with the children. Child support is intended to maintain that financial support when the children are with their other parent.

The Number of Children Being Supported:

The number of children is factored into the total amount of child support, and parents will get credit on the child support worksheet for any child support they may be paying for children with different parents.