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Tennessee Child Support Guidelines

Children have a legal right to be supported by their parents. Each state has its own laws that govern child support obligations, although child support payments are generally made to the parent who has primary custody of the child. In Tennessee, child support is how the "Alternate Residential Parent" (ARP), or non-custodial parent, sends money to the "Primary Residential Parent" (PRP), or custodial parent, to be spent on the child's needs.

Tennessee Child Support Calculations

Child support is calculated using Tennessee state guidelines that focus on the income of both parents (as reflected on an income worksheet) and the time that each parent spends with the child. If a parent pays support for other children, this could reduce any amount paid. Both parents can use the Tennessee online child support payment system to view processed payments.

Tennessee Child Support Enforcement

If a parent doesn't pay their child support obligation, the payment becomes past due. Child Support Services Enforcement can then go after the parent who's refusing to pay in a few different ways, including:

  • Placing a lien on their property;
  • Revoking their driver's license;
  • Seizing their bank accounts;
  • Denying them a passport;
  • Intercepting their federal or state income tax refunds; and
  • Reporting the amount owed to credit bureau.

In the event that a parent is unable to make child support payments because of changes in their circumstances beyond their control, they can try to modify their child support.

Tennessee Child Support Guidelines at a Glance

While reading the actual statute is important, it can also be helpful to read an overview of the laws. In the following table, you'll find both an overview of child support guidelines in Tennessee as well as links to applicable statutes.


Tennessee Code Title 36, Chapter 5: Alimony and Child Support

How is Support Calculated?

Child support is determined by the guidelines, specifically by the income of the parents, how often each parent has the child(ren), and the number of children being supported.

Income in Tennessee includes:

  • Wages
  • Salaries
  • Commissions, fees, and tips
  • Self-employment income
  • Bonuses
  • Overtime payments
  • Severance pay
  • Pension and retirement plans
  • Interest, dividend, trust, and annuity income
  • Net capital gains
  • Social Security disability or retirement
  • Workers' compensation benefits
  • Unemployment insurance benefits
  • Personal injury awards and other civil judgments
  • Gifts, prizes, and lottery winnings
  • Alimony from prior or subsequent spouses
What Expenses Can the Judge Order?

A judge orders child support to cover the basic expenses your child needs, such as food, clothing, housing, transportation, and health insurance. The ARP can also be ordered to pay for additional needs of the child, including:

  • Extraordinary educational needs;
  • Medical, hospital, or dental expenses; and/or
  • Special athletic, extra-curricular, or cultural activity expenses.
How Long Must a Parent Pay Child Support?

Parents have a legal duty to financially support their children until the child turns 18* unless the minor is emancipated.

*If the child is still in high school, child support can extend past 18 until either the child (1) graduates or (2) completes the grade they were in when they turned 18.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Tennessee Child Support Guidelines: Related Resources

Learn How Tennessee Child Support Guidelines Apply to You: Talk to a Lawyer

Calculating accurate child support amounts is important to the children that count on these payments. If you're a parent who wants to ensure that your child's needs are adequately met, or a parent who will potentially pay child support, you should talk to a local child support lawyer who can help you understand Tennessee child support guidelines.

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