Law Office of David L. Scott

Tennessee Child Support Guidelines Update 2020

The Child Support Guidelines have been updated for 2020. The Guidelines govern the calculation and modification of child support obligations. This first update in several years contains changes parents need to know when calculating child support.

Determination of Income

Child Support is based primarily upon the gross income of the parents. This is typically determined by reviewing W-2 forms or paystubs. Tax returns and the included Schedule C are reviewed for self-employed persons. The updated guidelines clarified the use of gifts or inheritance that can be reduced to cash or which generate income. This also includes gifts or cash which reduce living expenses. Some examples include:

Imputed Income

Income can be imputed by reviewing income and expense records. It can also be imputed at an annual amount of $43,761 for males and $35,936 for females if they do not provide income information or income cannot otherwise be determined. The statutory imputed income is only used in initial child support orders. Modification orders can use a percentage increase of income based upon the amount used in the prior order. It is prudent to gather as much information as possible about income to make a proper calculation.

Incarcerated Persons

Incarcerated persons will no longer be considered under-employed. They must have been incarcerated for 180 consecutive days for this to apply. They will still be ordered to pay support based upon income earned during incarceration or will be ordered to pay a minimum amount of child support.

Self-Support Reserve and Low Income

The guidelines now provide a self-support reserve. This is a low income adjustment to allow a child support obligor to retain minimum income to support themselves. Whether this applies will become apparent when calculating child support using the Child Support Worksheet.

Health Insurance Expenses

The guidelines allow either parent to include the premium paid for a child’s health, dental, and vision insurance. This will adjust the child support obligation by taxing a portion of the premium to each parent. The guidelines now include the health, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid by a step-parent.

Amount of Premium Allowed

The premium for health, dental, and vision insurance must be reasonable. This is defined as an amount not to exceed 5% of the insured’s gross income. The premium for health insurance alone should be included if the inclusion of the dental and vision coverage causes the premium to exceed 5%.

Is TennCare Insurance?

TennCare will now satisfy the requirement to provide medical support. This was not the case under the prior guidelines.

Day Count

The number of days a parent spends with a child can increase or decrease their child support obligation. The obligation increases for obligors who spend fewer than 68 days and decreases for obligors who spend more than 92 days with their children. A parent had to have the majority of a day, or more than twelve (12) hours, to receive credit for a day under the prior guidelines. The new guidelines permit the use of cumulated shorter periods to be added together to calculate the number of days a parent spends with their children. This can be especially useful for those who spend shorter periods of time with children because of work schedules.


Modifications of child support obligations sought between May 10, 2020 and November 9, 2020 will require a change of income or change in number of children. The modified obligation must also create a 15% variance between the current child support amount and the modified amount. Modifications sought after November 10, 2020 will require only the 15% variance.

Contact an Attorney for Child Support Matters

It is important to gather the necessary information and make a proper calculation of child support. David Scott is a family law attorney with over 23 years of experience in child support and family law matters. Contact David Scott or Call (615) 896-7656 today to schedule a free consultation for your child support matter.

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