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How Child Support Is Calculated in Alabama


Child support in Alabama is determined using a specific formula that takes into account various factors to determine a fair contribution from both parents. The primary elements considered include the combined income of both parents, the number of children involved, and additional costs such as healthcare and childcare. The state uses these figures to establish a basic support obligation, which is then divided between the parents proportionally based on their income. For help growing or protecting your finances, consider talking to a financial advisor.

How Child Support Works in Alabama

The child support system in Alabama helps children get adequate financial support from both parents, regardless of marital status. The process begins with determining the financial obligations of each parent, with the aim of meeting the child’s needs in a fair and balanced manner.

In Alabama, the calculation of child support is guided by the Alabama Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines use an “income shares” model, which considers the combined income of both parents. The idea is to estimate the amount that would have been available to the child if the parents were living together. The combined income is then used to find the basic child support obligation from a pre-determined chart. This amount is adjusted for additional expenses like health insurance premiums and work-related childcare costs.

Considerations for Calculating Child Support in Alabama

A mom in Alabama spending time with her daughter.

Calculating child support in Alabama involves several key factors. The starting point for determining child support is the combined gross income of both parents. Gross income includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions and other sources of income. This combined figure helps establish the overall financial capacity available to support the child.

Once you have income calculated then it’s important to know what expenses are required for the care of the children. Some of the necessary expenses include:

  • Health insurance: Health insurance premiums for the child are factored into the support calculation. The cost of adding the child to a parent’s health insurance plan is divided between the parents based on their income proportion.
  • Childcare: Work-related childcare expenses are another important consideration. These costs include daycare, after-school programs and other necessary childcare services that allow parents to work. Like health insurance costs, the parents share these expenses according to their respective incomes.
  • Other extraordinary expenses: In some cases, there may be extraordinary expenses that must be considered. These can include costs related to the child’s education, special medical needs, or extracurricular activities. The court may adjust the child support obligation to account for these additional expenses.

The amount of time each parent spends with the child can also impact the support calculation. If the non-custodial parent has significant visitation or shared custody arrangements, the court may adjust the support amount to reflect the costs incurred during their parenting time.

Understanding Deviations From Alabama Child Support Guidelines

Alabama’s child support guidelines provide a framework, but deviations can occur based on certain circumstances. Here are six common deviations that might apply to your situation:

  • High-income parents: For parents with exceptionally high incomes, the standard child support guidelines might not apply. The court may deviate from the typical calculation so that the child’s standard of living is consistent with the parent’s financial capabilities.
  • Low-income parents: Adhering to strict guidelines might lead to financial hardship for parents with very low incomes. The court can reduce the child support obligation so that the non-custodial parent maintains a minimum standard of living. This consideration helps balance the need for child support with the parent’s ability to pay.
  • Special needs of the child: If a child has special needs, the court may order higher support payments to cover additional expenses. These needs can include medical care, educational support, or other unique requirements that require increased financial support.
  • Extraordinary expenses: Parents might incur extraordinary expenses that justify a deviation from the guidelines. These can include significant healthcare costs, educational expenses, or costs associated with extracurricular activities. The court may adjust the support amount to accommodate these expenses.
  • Shared physical custody: In cases of shared physical custody, where both parents have significant and nearly equal parenting time, the standard child support calculations might not apply. The court considers the financial contributions of both parents during their custodial periods and adjusts the support obligations accordingly.
  • Existing support obligations: If a parent has existing child support obligations for children from previous relationships, the court may adjust the support amount to consider these responsibilities.

Bottom Line

A woman calculating child support in Alabama.

Alabama uses the income shares model that considers the incomes of both parents and the needs of the child to determine the support amount. Various factors like healthcare costs, daycare expenses and the number of children play a role in the final calculation. Additionally, you may have to consider certain deviations to the guidelines based on your circumstances.

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