The following is a summary of Alabama child support laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Alabama Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Determination of Income under Child Support Guidelines.

For purposes of the child support guidelines, “income” means actual gross income of a parent, if the parent is employed to full capacity, or the actual gross income the parent has the ability to earn if the parent is unemployed or underemployed.

“Gross income” includes income from any source, and includes, but is not limited to, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trusts, annuities, capital gains, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, gifts, prizes, and preexisting periodic alimony.

“Gross income” does not include child support received for other children or benefits received from meanstested public assistance programs, including, but not limited to, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, and general assistance.

For income from self-employment, rent, royalties, proprietorship of business, or joint ownership of a partnership or closely held corporation, “gross income” means gross receipts minus ordinary and necessary expenses required to produce such income, as allowed by the Internal Revenue Service. However, “ordinary and necessary expenses” does not include amounts allowable by the Internal Revenue Service for the accelerated component of depreciation expenses, investment tax credits, or any other business expenses determined by the court to be inappropriate for determining gross income for purposes of calculating child support.

Expense reimbursements or in-kind payments received by a parent in the course of employment, self-employment, or operation of a business shall be counted as income if they are significant and reduce personal living expenses.

If the court finds that either parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, it shall estimate the income that parent would otherwise have and shall impute to that parent that income; the court shall calculate child support based on that parent’s imputed income. In determining the amount of income to be imputed to a parent who is unemployed or underemployed, the court should determine the employment potential and probable earning level of that parent, based on that parent’s recent work history, education, and occupational qualifications, and on the prevailing job opportunities and earning levels in the community. The court may, in its discretion, take into account the presence of a young or physically or mentally disabled child necessitating the parent’s need to stay in the home and therefore the inability to work.

The amount of child support actually being paid by a parent pursuant to an order for support of other children shall be deducted from that parent’s “gross income.”

-From Rule 32 of the Alabama Child Support Guidelines.

Health Insurance.

All orders establishing or modifying child support shall, at a minimum, provide for the children’s health care needs through health insurance coverage or other means. Normally, health insurance covering the children should be required if it is available to either parent through his or her employment or pursuant to any other group plan at a reasonable cost.

The actual cost of a premium to provide health insurance benefits for the children shall be added to the “basic child support obligation” and shall be divided between the parents in proportion to their adjusted gross income.

-From Rule 32 of the Alabama Child Support Guidelines.

Child Care Costs.

Child care costs, incurred on behalf of the children because of employment or job search of either parent, shall be added to the “basic child support obligation.”

-From Rule 32 of the Alabama Child Support Guidelines.

Split Custody.

In those situations where each parent has primary physical custody of one or more children, support shall be computed in the following manner:

  1. Compute the support the father would owe to the mother for the children in her custody as if they were the only children of the two parties; then
  2. Compute the support the mother would owe to the father for the children in his custody as if they were the only children of the two parties; then
  3. Subtract the lesser support obligation from the greater. The parent who owes the greater obligation should be ordered to pay the difference in support to the other parent, unless the court determines, pursuant to other provisions of this rule that it should deviate from the guidelines.

-From Rule 32 of the Alabama Child Support Guidelines.

Joint Custody.

The Alabama child support guidelines do not specifically address the problem of establishing a support order in joint custody situations. Such a situation may be considered by the court as a reason for deviating from the guidelines in appropriate situations, particularly if physical custody is jointly shared by the parents.

-From Rule 32 of the Alabama Child Support Guidelines.

Income Over the Guidelines.

The schedule of basic child support obligations includes combined gross incomes ranging from $550 to $10,000 a month. Rule 32(C)(1) provides that the court may use its discretion in determining child support where the combined adjusted gross income is below the lowermost levels or above the uppermost levels of the schedule.

-From Rule 32 of the Alabama Child Support Guidelines.

Deviation from Child Support Guidelines.

There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the amount of child support calculated under the Alabama Child Support Guidelines is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. A written finding indicating that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate shall be sufficient to rebut the presumption if the finding is based upon:

  1. A fair, written agreement between the parties establishing a different amount and stating the reasons therefore; or
  2. A determination by the court, based upon evidence presented in court and stating the reasons therefore, that application of the guidelines would be manifestly unjust or inequitable.

Reasons for deviating from the guidelines may include, but are not limited to, the following. The existence of one or more of the reasons enumerated in this section does not require the court to deviate from the guidelines, but such reason or reasons may be considered in deciding whether to deviate from the guidelines.

a. Shared physical custody or visitation rights providing for periods of physical custody or care of children by the obligor parent substantially in excess of those customarily approved or ordered by the court;

b. Extraordinary costs of transportation for purposes of visitation borne substantially by one parent;

c. Expenses of college education incurred prior to a child’s reaching the age of majority;

d. Assets of, or unearned income received by or on behalf of, a child or children; and

e. Such other facts or circumstances that the court finds contribute to the best interest of the child or children for whom support are being determined.

-From Rule 32 of the Alabama Child Support Guidelines.

Immediate Income Withholding Order.

Immediate withholding shall not be implemented in any case where one of the parties demonstrates, and the court finds, there is good cause not to require immediate income withholding, or a written agreement is reached between both parties which provides for an alternative arrangement. In such cases, income withholding shall be implemented if the non-custodial parent fails to make payments in an amount equal to one month’s support obligation, or the non-custodial parent requests immediate withholding, or the payee or the department requests that withholding begin and the non-custodial parent has failed to make a payment or payments on the date or dates due.

-From Section 30-3-61 of the Code of Alabama.

 

This information has been summarized from the Alabama statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Alabama divorce statutes online here: Alabama Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL CHILD SUPPORT LAWS.

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