What Is Considered Income When Calculating Child Support?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

If you are not familiar with the concept of child support, let me give you a brief explanation. When parents are not married or residing together, child support is the amount paid from one parent of a child to another parent of a child to “support” and help raise the child and pay for expenses related to the child.

In Tennessee, there is a mathematical formula that has been developed through the “child support guidelines” that is designed to calculate what is needed to raise a child. The child support guidelines can be daunting. They are 73 pages long!

However, there are only a few variables in the child support formula that we generally need to concern ourselves with, and one of the key variables is the income of the parties. If a party makes more money, they are going to potentially pay more child support, so figuring out someone’s income is incredibly important to ensure the correct child support amount is obtained.

Child support is based on an individual’s gross income, not net income. Rule 1240-02-04.04(3)(a) defines gross income as including, but not limited to: wages; salaries; commissions, fees and tips; income from self-employment; bonuses; overtime payments; severance pay; pensions or retirement plans; interest income; dividend income; trust income; annuities; net capital gains; disability or retirement benefits; workers compensation benefits; unemployment benefits; judgments recovered for personal injuries; cash or liquid gifts; cash or liquid inheritance; prizes; lottery winnings; alimony from other persons.

In addition, individuals can have imputed income if the court finds someone is unemployed, but they have the ability to work and earn more money than they are currently making.

The courts will go after every dollar they can to make sure children are financially supported.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information.