Tennessee Child Support Calculator – Estimate Your Child Support Payments

Use the calculator below to estimate your child support payment based on Tennessee’s guideline formula.

Tennessee Child Support Calculator

This calculator provides an estimate for informational purposes only. See full disclaimer here.

To use the child support calculator, simply fill in the details above. Hovering over the “question marks” will give you additional information. Read on for more tips to help you accurately estimate the child support payment.

  • How many children: Enter the number of children under the age of 18. Do not include children from other relationships.
  • Parenting time: Enter the number of days you spend with each child.
  • Monthly Pay: Enter your monthly adjusted gross income along with the other parent’s. Read on to see how this is determined.

Tennessee Child Support Basics

Child support is intended to cover basic expenses such as housing, food, clothing, transportation, and entertainment.

Tennessee has a guideline formula for calculating the amount of child support owed from one parent to the other. This formula considers both parents’ income, the custody and visitation schedule (how much time each parent spends with the child), and the number of children.

There may be adjustments for additional expenses such as children’s health insurance premiums, uncovered medical expenses, and work-related childcare.

In Tennessee, the parent who the child lives with for more than 50% of the time is called the Primary Residential Parent. The parent who the child resides with for less than 50% of the time is called the Alternative Residential Parent (ARP).

The ARP typically pays child support to the PRP. That’s not always the case, however. In fact, the PRP may be required to pay child support if their income is significantly higher than the ARP.

In this article, you’ll learn how child support is calculated in Tennessee. You can learn more about child support in Tennessee in our comprehensive guide.

Factors in the Tennessee Guideline Child Support Formula

Number of Children

Child support is calculated based on the number of minor children you have with the other parent. Don’t include any children from other relationships.

As a general rule, child support ends when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs second.

Parenting Time

The timeshare calculation is based on the number of days each parent spends with their child.

So, how are days defined? A day is when the child spends more than 12 consecutive hours in a 24-hour period with one parent. The 24-hour period doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as a calendar day.


This is where things start to get a little technical… Bear with me as I walk through some of the nitty-gritty details (yes, they’re important).

In short, each parent’s adjusted gross income is calculated as follows:

  1. Start with the parent’s total gross income
  2. Add any social security benefits paid to the child on the parent’s account
  3. Subtract any self-employment taxes
  4. Subtract any court-ordered child support you pay for children from other relationships

The court takes the combined adjusted gross income of both parents and the number of children to determine the Basic Child Support Obligation. The basic child support obligation represents the amount both parents are expected to spend on their child before considering any adjustments for additional expenses.

Each parent is expected to contribute based on their percentage of combined income. In other words, if you are making 30% of the combined income, you would pay 30% of the total obligation.

Gross Income

According to Rule 1240-2-4-.04(3) of the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, gross income includes income from all sources including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Commissions, fees, and tips
  • Self-employment income
  • Bonuses
  • Overtime pay
  • Severance pay
  • Pensions or retirement plans
  • Social security
  • Dividends and interest
  • Trust income
  • Annuities
  • Capital gains
  • Disability benefits
  • Workers compensation benefits
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Certain gifts
  • Alimony received from someone other than the co-parent

If a parent is voluntarily unemployed or working below their capacity, the court can impute income to that parent. That means that the parent can be treated as having additional income based on their earning capacity.

Read More: How to File for Divorce in Tennessee

Adjustments for Additional Expenses

Expenses related to the cost of health insurance for the child, childcare so a parent can work, and recurring uninsured medical expenses are not included in basic child support. These additional expenses are added to the basic child support obligation.

Formula Methods

There are three common methods that states use to calculate guideline child support amounts: 1) Income Shares Model, 2) Percentage of Income Model, and 3) Melson Formula. Tennessee uses the Income Shares model for determining child support.

The Income Shares Model is based on the idea that a child should receive the same proportion of total parental income from unmarried parents that they would have received if the parents lived together.


Does child support cover college expenses in Tennessee?

Parents are not required to pay for college tuition under Tennessee laws. While a court can’t order parents to pay for college, a judge can require a high-earning parent to contribute to a college trust fund.

Parents can voluntarily agree to contribute to college expenses or any other expenses for their adult children. If this is included in a divorce settlement agreement, it becomes a contractual obligation.

How are child support payments taxed in Tennessee?

Under IRS rules, child support payments are not taxable to the recipient for Federal and State tax purposes. Similarly, the parent who pays child support cannot deduct their child support payments. In other words, child support is paid with after-tax dollars.

Do you have to pay child support if you have 50/50 custody in TN?

If parents share 50/50 custody, the child support calculation is based on each parent having 182.5 days of parenting time. The higher-earning parent may be required to pay child support if there is a disparity in each parent’s income.

Can Tennessee courts deviate from the guideline formula?

Under certain circumstances, the court can order child support that differs from the amount provided by the guideline formula. Two examples include parents with particularly high or low income.

If the combined income of both parents exceeds $28,250, the basic child support obligation is the base amount plus a percentage of income above $28,250 as shown in the table below:

# of ChildrenBase amountPercentage of income above $28,250
5 or more$3,6248.66%

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