When parents of minor children divorce in Alabama, the court uses certain guidelines to determine child support obligations. Both parents share the responsibility of supporting children financially until they become legal adults.

Before discussing child support with your child’s other parent, understand how Alabama calculates these payments.

Income shares model

The state uses the income shares formula to determine which parent pays child support and the monthly amount. This calculation uses the average amount that a two-parent family would spend to raise the child or children, then divides this amount between the parents based on their proportion of income.

For example, if you earn $2,000 a month and your child’s other parent earns $4,000 a month, he or she would be responsible for about two-thirds of the average child support obligation for a child of that age. If one parent has no income, the other parent must pay the entirety of the child support amount.

This model applies primarily to cases in which one parent has sole custody and the other parent has visitation. The judge can use discretion to adjust the amount when parents share custody more or less equally.

Additional factors

If one parent receives child support for other children or public assistance benefits, these items do not factor into the income calculation. If a parent pays alimony or child support for other relationships, the court subtracts those items from his or her income for the purpose of calculating child support.

The court will also add childcare and health insurance costs to the average support obligation. Like other costs, the court divides these proportionally based on the parents’ income.

Adjustments to the income shares model can also account for significant income discrepancies. For example, the judge may change the support amount if one parent has a very high or very low income. After Alabama makes a child support determination, you can only request a change when circumstances see a significant ongoing change.