By Jedidiah McKeehan

What is child support?  Child support is money paid from one parent of a child to the other parent of a child.  This money is supposed to be used to care for and help raise the child.

It goes without saying, child support only comes in to play when the parents of a child are divorced or unmarried, and thereby living in different households.  If a child’s parents are married or live together, there is no need for child support because the child is in one household all of time and has the benefit of both parents’ contributions to necessary expenses and costs that are incurred in the raising of a child.

When parents are living in different households, the parent with less income generally needs the monetary help of the other parent in paying for child expenses.  Child support is designed to equalize the parties’ incomes.

In practice, if the parties have equal number of visitation days with their children, but one parent makes much more than the other parent, they will be expected to pay child support even though their days of visitation are the exact same.

If a parent has more days with the children than the other parent, typically they will be the parent receiving child support, but not always, particularly if they make a great deal more money than the other parent.

Other items that are considered in the calculating of child support are whether one parent is paying the children’s health insurance premium or childcare expense related to the children.

It’s important to remember, child support is an obligation that has to be paid until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever is later.  If a parent gets behind in their payment of child support, that obligation could continue on for years and even decades and could result in the parent owing the child support going to jail if they refuse to pay what they owe.

The Tennessee Child Support Calculator is available to the general public.  Simply do an internet search for it and you will be able to download it, plug in numbers, and see what kind of amounts might be owed given various different scenarios.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.