What Does Child Support Cover? What about Private School?

Child support is expected to cover housing, food, transportation, clothing and entertainment, as well as the costs associated with a public education. The child support guidelines allow parents to subtract certain regular expenses from their respective gross income numbers before the child support amount gets calculated. Tennessee law includes a credit for work-related childcare expenses, for court-ordered child support paid to children from prior relationships, for health insurance costs and for recurring uninsured medical expenses.

Parents can decide to share any of these expenses, so that both would show credits on the child support guidelines worksheet. Special expenses and extraordinary educational expenses such as private school or special needs schooling can be discussed and the allocation of these expenses can be decided upon by the parents. Once the basic child support amount is determined, then parents can add in the costs of extraordinary educational expenses as a deviation from the guidelines.

So, if the guidelines give Mom $2000 per month in child support, but Johnny’s private school is $750 per month for tuition and books, then the parents can decide how to pay for those additional agreed to costs. Dad could pay the expenses directly or could give Mom an extra $750 per month, or the parents could share in the private school costs according to their proportional share of the overall support, depending on their respective incomes. Tennessee Law states that the special expense has to be more than 7% of the basic guidelines amount, which in this example it would be. In other words, the special expense needs to be financially significant.