Chattanooga Divorce Lawyer Handles Child Support Matters with Care
Working to ensure both parents are responsible for supporting their children
In a divorce, the care and treatment of your children should be your top priority. The state of Tennessee requires that both parents provide for their children, whether those parents remain married or become divorced. At Jenkins & Habenicht Attorneys at Law, PLLC, we have extensive experience handling child support cases. Our attorney works tirelessly to make sure your child is financially provided for by both parents.
How to calculate the basic child support obligation
Tennessee uses a guideline called the basic child support obligation (BCSO) that helps determine how much a parent should pay for child support. It is based on an income shares model that looks at a percentage of joint income and the number of days children spend with each parent. It also includes regular expenses paid by one or both parents, such as daycare and health insurance.
To calculate the basic child support obligation, the gross income of each parent is considered. The income sources that are evaluated to find each parent’s gross income include:
- Pensions or retirement plans
Once each parent’s gross income is calculated, credits (also referred to as deductions) are calculated. These credits are then subtracted from the gross income. Credits can include self-employment taxes and support paid to other children. When credits are deducted from the income, the resulting amount is called the adjusted gross income.
Finally, each parent’s adjusted gross income is combined and the total is measured on a scale that corresponds with the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ child support schedule. This is where each parent’s parenting days and other expenses are included in the calculations.
Does parenting time have an impact on the amount of child support owed in Tennessee?
Yes, time spent parenting does affect the basic child support obligation.
In one case, Walls v. Walls, we successfully argued that there can be more than 7 days in a week for the purposes of counting days for child support, because a day of parenting time is when a child spends more than 12 consecutive hours in a 24-hour period under the care of one parent or a caretaker. The 24-hour period does not need to be the same as the 24-hour calendar day. So, a day of parenting time can include an overnight period or a combination.
An adjustment is made to the BCSO based on the amount of time parents spend with their children. As stated above, a day is calculated as more than 12 hours with a child during a 24-hour period. Parenting time and child custody arrangements both significantly affect child support amounts. The legal team at Jenkins & Habenicht can help you determine likely calculations and scenarios based on how much time you spend parenting.
Can the amount of child support change over time?
Yes. If a parent suddenly earns significantly more or less money, the amount of child support can be changed by seeking a child support modification. This refers to situations where the amount of support paid goes up or down 15 percent.
Because child support law is complex and the subject of support an emotionally charged one, you need a law firm you can trust to fight for you and your children.
Ensure your children have the financial care they need after a divorce
Jenkins & Habenicht Attorneys at Law, PLLC, knows that understanding the laws governing child support can be difficult. Our dedicated team ensures that you’ll always speak to a lawyer or a paralegal when you have questions about the financial well-being of your children after a divorce. We’re conveniently located near the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga campus. Call us at 423-402-9354 or reach us online.