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How Is Child Support Calculated In Alabama

Child Support Attorney - Law Office of Ginger Poynter

If you are considering a divorce in Alabama with children involved or are involved in a paternity case, child support is probably already an issue.  The state of Alabama recognizes that both parents, whether married or not, have a legal obligation to support their children.

Fortunately, the rules are specific about who has to pay and how much.  Unfortunately, the calculations can become complicated and confusing.  If you have any questions about your child support award or need help with a child support case, contact The Law Office of Ginger Poynter for assistance.

Alabama’s Income Shares Model

Alabama bases child support payments on what is referred to as the “income shares model.”  This is based on the concept that a child should receive the same ratio of support from each parent that they would have been given had the parent’s relationship remained intact.  In theory, an “unbroken” family will pool their income for the benefit of the entire household, including the children.

The Income Shares Model calculates the total amount that an intact family would spend supporting their children and then splits that up proportionately according to each parent’s individual income.  The result leaves the parent with a larger income paying a greater percentage of support and the parent with a lesser income assigned smaller amount.

How to Calculate Child Support in Alabama

Using the Income Share Model, you’ll use a four-step process to figure out your child support obligation:

Step 1:  Figure out the gross income of both parents and combine the incomes to come up with a total figure.

Step 2: Look on the Alabama Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations chart and match the total income from step one with the number of children to come up with a support figure.

Step 3: Calculate the total child support obligation by adding in things like extraordinary health care expenses, child care expenses, and health insurance costs.

Step 4: The total obligation of each parent is based on that parent’s percentage of the combined gross income.  The parent with primary custody is presumed to spend their portion directly on the child each month.

Example of a Simple Alabama Child Support Calculation

Let’s assume that Joe and Denise are getting a divorce.  They have one minor child and have agreed that Denise will retain primary custody with visitation rights for Joe.  Joe makes $3,000 per month gross, and Denise makes $1,000 per month gross.  Childcare expenses are $150 per month.  We’ll assume that health insurance is paid by Joe’s employer and there are no other extraordinary expenses.

Step 1: Joe and Denise’s total monthly income is $3,000 + $1,000 = $4,000.

Step 2: Based on the Alabama Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations chart, the basic child support obligation is $685.

Step 3: Add the $150 for child care expenses to the $685 basic child support obligation. The total child support is $835.

Step 4: The final step is to prorate the obligation based on income.  Joe’s income is $3,000 out of a $4,000 total, or 75%.   Take 75% x $835, or $626.25 total that Joe will pay to Denise in child support.

Deviations from Alabama Child Support Guidelines

The Alabama courts recognize that no two child custody cases are the same, which is why there are provisions that allow for deviations from this Income Shares Model.  Some of the circumstances that might cause such a deviation include:

  • You have shared custody or extensive visitation rights with your children that are beyond the norm.
  • One parent bears a substantial cost for transportation related to visitation.
  • College education expenses are incurred before the child reaches 18.
  • One or more children earn, receive, or inherit substantial income or assets.
  • Other extenuating circumstances that the courts deem in the best interests of the child.

Courts might deviate from the guidelines that we listed here without one of these factors present.  They also might fail to act when a deviation is clearly in order.  For more information about paternity and child support issues in Alabama, contact our experienced child support attorney today.  Contact the Law Office of Ginger Poynter, LLC at (251) 445-8313.


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