Important Expenses Added to the Child Support Calculation in Tennessee

Tennessee’s Child Support Guidelines considers the parents’ actual expenses for work-related childcare, health insurance premium, recurring medical expenses not covered by insurance, special expenses or add-ons, private school tuition, and travel expenses for long-distance visitation.

Important Expenses Added to the Tennessee Child Support Calculation

Important Expenses Added to the Tennessee Child Support Calculation

Start with the Tennessee Child Support Calculation, Then Add More Actual Expenses

The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines are based upon the “Income Shares Model.”  This means that both parents contribute to the support of the children in proportion to their actual available income.  Under the Guidelines, the total cost of raising a child is computed.  Part of this computation is based upon the income of the parents, and this amount is treated as the basic amount for most expenses, such as housing, food, and transportation.  Other expenses, however, such as childcare and medical expenses, are highly variable.  For these expenses, the Guidelines look at the actual amount of the expenses.

To make the child support calculation, the court first computes the Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO).  This amount is based upon two factors:  The combined Adjusted Gross Income of both parents, and the number of children.  Once this figure is determined, it is adjusted, based upon the additional expenses discussed in this article.  After the BCSO is calculated, the additional expenses discussed here are added to the BCSO.  The result of this computation is the “Adjusted Support Obligation” (ASO).  This figure, along with the amount of parenting time by each parent, is used to compute the actual amount of child support.

The expenses used to compute the ASO include each parent’s share of the children’s health insurance and medical expenses.  They also include work-related childcare.  Finally, in some situations, certain “add on” expenses, such as summer camp, music lessons, or athletics, may be considered.  In other words, the BCSO is the amount of money that the Guidelines presume is necessary for everything the children need, other than health care and work-related child care.  The ASO, on the other hand, covers everything:  It is the BCSO plus the cost of health care and work-related child care.  The reason why these two expenses are treated separately is because they can vary so much from family to family.  For expenses such as food, clothing, and transportation, it is easiest simply to use a percentage of income.  But for health-care and child-care expenses, the actual dollar amounts are used.

The rules governing each of these expense categories can be complicated, and the following pages explain in more detail how these expenses work into the child support calculation:

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