What Is Income For Purposes Of Calculating Spousal Support And Child Support

Upon getting a divorce in the state of Tennessee you need to take into consideration the financial realities of the dissolution of your marriage. Divorcing partners who have children together will need to take into consideration the cost of child support; many couples will also need to account for spousal support, whether or not they have had children. To arrive at an accurate estimate, couples first need to understand what is considered income for the purpose of calculating spousal support and child support. The Tennessee Department of Human Services outlines child support guidelines for the state. Child support obligations are dictated based on an income shares model that looks at the parents’ combined adjusted gross income and the number of children. While navigating a divorce and figuring out the amounts of spousal support or child support you are either entitled to receive or responsible for paying, it can be helpful to have to have an experienced family law and divorce attorney on your side. Schedule a free consultation and case review with Shepherd and Long, PC by calling (856) 982-8060 today.Father and child putting a puzzle together.

What Is the Most Money Child Support Can Take?

Child support guidelines provided by the Tennessee Department of Human Services determine the maximum amount of money child support can take. Some of the most important factors that determine the amount of child support are the income of the parents, the amount of time each parent spends parenting the child, and the number of children involved. In general, a parent is expected to contribute the equivalent amount to their percentage of the combined income of both parents. This is the case where the parents have income from a regular job. If the parent paying support receives income from government programs meant for low income people, then the court looks to other factors. 

Statutory Maximums

To prevent one parent from suffering unnecessarily due to child support payments, there are statutory maximums set for child support in the state of Tennessee. 

  • One child: $2100
  • Two children: $3200
  • Three children: $4100
  • Four children: $4600
  • Five or more children: $5000

The court must find a balance between the amount of money necessary to care for and support the child and what is fair for the parent who is financially supporting the child and ex-spouse. 

Factors Other Than Income

Typically, the child support calculation also takes into account things such as the child’s health insurance premium, recurring uninsured medical expenses, and work-related childcare expenses. The calculations for child support go beyond the income of the parents to ensure that the child is well supported as if the parents had not divorced. 

The court also has the discretion to add on other costs based on the family’s circumstances. If the child goes to a school that requires tuition to be paid that may be taken into account. If the child is involved in extracurricular activities such as sports, the costs of participation in those activities may also be factored into the child and spousal support totals. 

What Is the Low Income Threshold for Child Support? 

When a parent’s income is low enough that the court’s calculation of child support would impact that parent’s ability to support themselves, then the court looks at the low income threshold. Below this threshold, the court performs a second child support calculation using only the income of the parent expected to pay child support rather than the income of both parents. 

If the result of that calculation produces a lower number for child support than the original calculation that took into account both parent’s incomes, then the parent will pay the lower number. This aims to ensure that the parent is able to support themselves and the child is also taken care of. One parent earning substantially more or less than the other is not uncommon, particularly if they were originally married, living together, and intending to raise the child together. Therefore, it is important that there is a low income threshold that supports all parties. 

What Qualifies You for Alimony? 

Spousal support is an important part of negotiations during many divorces. Determining what, if any, alimony a spouse is entitled to receive can be complicated. Fortunately, the Tennessee Department of Human Services outlines alimony and child support rules and guidelines. 

Types of Spousal Support

There are a few different types of alimony available that are determined based on the parent’s financial situation and other factors. The state allows for temporary alimony, short-term alimony, long-term or permanent alimony, and lump-sum alimony. 

  • Temporary alimony: lasts for the duration of the divorce proceedings.
  • Short-term alimony: lasts for a specific period until the receiving spouse becomes financially independent. 
  • Long-term alimony: supports a spouse who is unable to become financially independent. 
  • Lump-sum: a one-time payment rather than recurring payments. 

Factors Considered in Determining Alimony

Similar to child support, spousal support determinations are made based on the compilation of several factors, all of which are taken into consideration before a final number is assigned by the court. Here are a few criteria that the court looks to when determining alimony: 

  • Who has custody of the child, if the couple has children
  • Earning capabilities and financial resources 
  • Needs and obligations 
  • Age and health 
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Standard of living during the marriage 
  • Value of each spouse’s separate and marital property 

What Is the Formula for Child Support?

As discussed above, Tennessee has a few different methods to calculate child support. In some cases, the child support and spousal support can be arranged by a mutual support agreement between the parents out of court. This is the simplest, but not always the most realistic, method. 

In other cases, the parents decide to have the court determine child and spousal support. In these instances, the courts look at two common methods: the Income Share Method and the Percentage of Income Method.

Income Share Method

The Income Share Method is the model preferred by the State of Tennessee. This method allows the court to use economic tables to determine the total monthly costs of raising the child. Calculations based on income shares then require that the non-custodial parent pay a percentage of the calculated cost based on their proportional share of the household income. 

Percentage of Income Method

The Percentage of Income Method is a different method that instead takes a set percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income and requires it to be paid to cover basic child support. This child support number will change with changes in the non-custodial parent’s income. 

Again, as discussed above there are guidelines that dictate the maximum amount the non-custodial parent is obligated to pay in child support based on the number of children involved. 

East Tennessee Family Law Attorneys

If you are navigating a divorce and spousal support in East Tennessee, there are experienced divorce attorneys available who may be able to help you. Schedule a consultation with the seasoned child support and spousal support attorneys with Shepherd & Long, PC by calling (856) 982-8060 today.