Using the income shares model to calculate child support in TN

All children deserve the emotional and financial support of both parents, regardless of whether they are together or divorced. When a family becomes separated through divorce, however, many children in Tennessee face financial difficulties as they move from a two-parent household to a single-parent household. As a way to minimize this financial strain, the non-custodial parent is often court-ordered to make child support payments to the parent who has primary custody of the children. Not only does this help to keep children of divorced parents out of poverty, but it allows children to enjoy a better quality of life then they may be exposed to otherwise.

Income shares model of child support

The income shares model of child support is based on the belief that children should receive the same amount of financial support when their parents are divorced that they would have had if their parents had stayed together. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, this model holds both parents accountable for financially contributing to the health and welfare of their children.

How is the child support amount determined?

There are certain factors that Tennessee courts will consider when calculating the amount of financial support that a child should receive each month. According to the Tennessee Department of Human Services, these factors include:

  • The adjusted gross income of each parent, which is found by subtracting any qualified expenses from the total amount of income.
  • Any special needs the child may have, including physical or mental disabilities that may require the parent to stay at home with the child.
  • How much time each parents spends with the child in the parenting time agreement.
  • Medical expenses, child care costs and healthcare insurance coverage, if applicable.

Since each family divorce situation is unique, the judge may consider any special circumstances surrounding each case as well.

Modification of child support

Once a child support amount has been established by a Tennessee court of law, the parent is responsible for making his or her payments according to the set schedule. A situation may occur, however, where a parent is no longer able to make their payments based on an unexpected life event. In certain cases, the court may decide to modify an existing child support order and either increase or decrease the amount of child support due.

In order to qualify for a child support modification, the parent obligated to pay child support must have a 15 percent change in their gross income, according to the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. This may occur if a parent has lost his or her job or received a major promotion. Parents who have been convicted of a crime or suffer from a disability which affects their ability to work, may apply for a modification as well.

How an attorney can help

Going through a divorce is an emotional process for everyone involved. During this hard time, it can be difficult to make important decisions, which may impact the rest of your life. A family attorney can help you make the legal choices that will best benefit you and your children.