How is child support calculated in Tennessee?

In the state of Tennessee, either parent has the right to request a review of an established child support order at any time. However, a modification in child support payments is usually not granted unless there is a significant variance between the amount of child support owed under the existing order and the proposed new child support order. There are several factors that go into the calculation of child support payments, some of which are listed below.

Custody Arrangements/Residential Schedule

The specific number of days throughout the year that the child(ren) spend with both the mother and father as well as any other caretaker are documented.


The next factor examined is the gross monthly income of each of the parents. Gross monthly income includes gross monthly earnings from wages, tips, and other compensation from all sources. Subtracted from these amounts are the federal tax credits received for the child(ren), self-employment taxes paid by either party, and any credit for in-home or not-in-home children. From these figures, a combined adjusted gross income is derived, and each parent’s percentage is figured.

Basic Child Support Obligation

The Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO) is calculated using the amount of support shown on the Child Support Schedule which relates to the combined adjusted gross income of both parents and the number of children involved. If there is any outstanding child support due, this amount will also come into play, and an adjusted BCSO will be calculated.

Additional Expenses

After the adjusted gross income and BCSO are calculated, any additional expenses are considered. These expenses include any medical insurance premiums paid on behalf of the child, any ongoing un-insured medical expenses, and work related child care costs. Private school tuition and other special enrichment classes or experiences may also be included in some circumstances. From these totals, each parent’s Adjusted Support Obligation (ASO) is derived.

Once all of the above factors are considered, a Presumptive Child Support Order (PCSO) is established. This new figure is compared to the current amount of child support being paid. If there is a variance of at least 15% (or 7.5% for low income families), a modification to the current child support order can be made. In some special circumstances, it is possible to ask for a deviation to the PCSO. A Final Child Support Order will be issued after both parties are in agreement or a judge offers a ruling.

Child support calculation can be confusing with so many different factors coming into play. A child support lawyer can help examine the facets of each individual case and make sure that forms are filled out accurately and filed correctly. They will also make sure that the best interests of the child are well represented and that the Final Child Support Order issued is fair for all parties involved.

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