Raising children is expensive, and you do your best to make sure that your kids have what they need in order to have a happy, healthy childhood. With the divorce looming in the near future, you may worry that the change in finances for you and your spouse will affect what you are able to provide for your children.

At the law firm of Parker and LaDuke, our attorneys understand what child-rearing expenses the courts include when determining the right amount for child support payments. According to the Tennessee Department of Human Services Child Support Guidelines, the general calculation for child support is based on the basic child support obligation, which is intended to cover “basic expenses.” These include the following:

  • Housing
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Transportation
  • Entertainment
  • Public school educational expenses

You may be surprised to see that entertainment is considered a basic expense. The guidelines note that although Tennessee child support should cover entertainment, these expenses (as well as clothing and school expenses) should make up a very small portion of what you spend the child support on.

Expenses such as health care, child care and uninsured medical costs are not figured in the basic child support obligation calculation because the amounts fluctuate so much from one family to the next. However, the courts will use the amounts you and your spouse supply as the actual cost of these things when calculating the final child support payment.

Other specific expenses, such as costs associated with private or special needs schooling, may be included. However, you cannot force your spouse to pay half of the cost of a summer camp, sports fees or other special expenses unless you can quantify them and show that they make up more than 7% of the basic child support obligation each month.

More information about child custody and support is available on our webpage.