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HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATED IN ALABAMA? (Updated)

Child support awards are governed by Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration, which was promulgated by the Supreme Court of Alabama. Rule 32 provides the method and standards for calculating child support and employs several forms to be used by the Court and both parties to calculate child support.

Both parties in a child support case must complete a Statement of Income Affidavit (known as Form CS-41). This form requires parties to list all forms of GROSS income they receive. It is important to remember that under Rule 32, “income” is a broad term that can include more than what the Internal Revenue Service defines as “taxable.” Social Security benefits, car and food allowances, and housing benefits from employers can also be part of the “gross income” used in a child support calculation. SeeStinson v. Stinson, 729 So.2d 864 (Ala.Civ.App.1998) (court included car/fuel allowance from employer as income); See also, Norman v. Norman, 50 So.3d 1107 (Ala.Civ.App.2010) (court included military housing allowance as income). The parties must also list the monthly costs that they pay (if any) for childcare and health insurance for the minor children in the case.

The figures from both parties’ CS-41 forms are then used to fill out the Child Support Guidelines Form CS-42. The CS-42 is a fill in the blank formula used to calculate child support awards. The calculation begins with each party’s monthly gross income. Then, if either party is already paying child support in another case, that monthly amount is deducted from their gross monthly income. Next, both parties’ incomes are added together to find the combined gross monthly income. Each party’s percentage share of the gross monthly income is also entered (for instance, if the Father makes $3,000.00 and the Mother makes $1,000.00, the Father would have a 75% share and the Mother a 25% share). The parties’ combined gross monthly income has a “Standard Basic Obligation” that can be found in a schedule that is part of Rule 32. That basic obligation is entered into the CS-42 and is added to monthly child care costs (which are limited to a maximum level based on the type of child care) and the monthly health insurance premium paid to cover the children. This figure used to be the full premium paid for family coverage, but is now limited under Rule 32, to the pro rata share of the monthly premium for the number of children covered under the child support Order. For example, if the total premium was $400 per month, but that covered three other people besides the child, then only 1/4 of the monthly premium would be part of the child support calculation. Once those figures are added together, the total is then multiplied by the non-custodial parent’s percentage of the combined gross monthly income. If the non-custodial parent pays the health insurance premium, that amount (the same pro rata share referenced above) is then deducted. The result is the monthly child support award that is presumed to be used.

Under certain circumstances, a court may deviate from the presumed award under the Rule 32 formula just outlined. “When the court determines that the application of the guidelines would be manifestly unjust or inequitable and then deviates from those guidelines in setting a support obligation, the court must make the findings required by Rule 32(A)(ii), Ala. R. Jud. Admin. M.S.H. v. C.A.H., 829 So.2d 164, 169 (Ala.Civ.App.2002) (citing Thomas v. Norman, 766 So.2d 857, 859 (Ala.Civ.App.2000)). Rule 32(A), Ala. R. Jud. Admin., allows the trial court to deviate from the guidelines so long as the deviation is based on “evidence presented in court” contained in a “written finding on the record.” In other words, the subsection requires the trial court to state a reason justifying its deviation from the guidelines.” DeYoung v. DeYoung, 853 So. 2d 967, 970 (Ala.Civ.App.2002). In circumstances where the parties exercise “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” may constitute a “reason for deviating from the guidelines,” the rule further notes that “[t]he existence of one or more of the reasons enumerated in this section does not require the court to deviate from the guidelines.Boatfield v. Clough, 895 So. 2d 354, 356 (Ala.Civ.App.2004). In other words, true joint/shared custody may (and often does) result in a deviation from the Rule 32 formula, but that such is not guaranteed. In the vast majority of cases, the Rule 32 formula is applied without a deviation.


There countless circumstances that could be present in a child support matter that would effect the outcome of any award. You should consult with a child support attorney about any questions you may have about your own case. You can reach our Firm at either out Birmingham office at 205.937.3687 or our Blount County, Alabama office at 205.683.0660. The following is required by the Ala. Rules of Professional Conduct:
No representation is made that the quality of legal services performed is greater than those of other attorneys.

Alabama Supreme Court Rules Child Support Can No Longer Continue Past Age 19 To Pay For College

Today, in a case known as Ex Parte Christopher, the Alabama Supreme Court in a 6-2 decision reversed a 1989 case known as Ex Parte Bayliss, which had declared that child support could extend past age 19 if the child was in college and meeting other requirements. This has been known as the Bayliss standard for “post-minority” support, and thousands of Alabamians have such a requirement in their divorce decree or custody order. In its ruling today, the Court said that the Bayliss Court erred in holding that Alabama law allowed support to be extended for a child who reaches the age of majority (19 in Alabama). This decision could also spell the end of the other type of post-minority support for disabled children which was established by a 1983 case, Ex Parte Brewington, but that issue will likely be decided in a different case soon.

The Court ruled that this decision DOES NOT overturn old cases that contained provisions for post-minority support, but it does mean that pending cases that are not final and all new cases cannot include support for college beyond age 19.

How Is Child Support Calculated In Alabama?

Child support awards are governed by Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration, which was promulgated by the Supreme Court of Alabama. Rule 32 provides the method and standards for calculating child support and employs several forms to be used by the Court and both parties to calculate child support.

Both parties in a child support case must complete a Statement of Income Affidavit (known as Form CS-41). This form requires parties to list all forms of GROSS income they receive. It is important to remember that under Rule 32, “income” is a broad term that can include more than what the Internal Revenue Service defines as “taxable.” Social Security benefits, car and food allowances, and housing benefits from employers can also be part of the “gross income” used in a child support calculation. SeeStinson v. Stinson, 729 So.2d 864 (Ala.Civ.App.1998) (court included car/fuel allowance from employer as income); See also, Norman v. Norman, 50 So.3d 1107 (Ala.Civ.App.2010) (court included military housing allowance as income). The parties must also list the monthly costs that they pay (if any) for childcare and health insurance for the minor children in the case.

The figures from both parties’ CS-41 forms are then used to fill out the Child Support Guidelines Form CS-42. The CS-42 is a fill in the bank formula used to calculate child support awards. The calculation begins with each party’s monthly gross income. Then, if either party is already paying child support in another case, that monthly amount is deducted from their gross monthly income. Next, both parties’ incomes are added together to find the combined gross monthly income. Each party’s percentage share of the gross monthly income is also entered (for instance, if the Father makes $3,000.00 and the Mother makes $1,000.00, the Father would have a 75% share and the Mother a 25% share. The parties’ combined gross monthly income has a “Standard Basic Obligation” that can be found in a schedule that is part of Rule 32. That basic obligation is entered into the CS-42 and is added to monthly child care costs (which are limited to a maximum level based on the type of child care) and the monthly health insurance premium paid to cover the children. This figure used to be the full premium paid for family coverage, but is now limited under Rule 32, to the pro rata share of the monthly premium for the number of children covered under the child support Order. For example, if the total premium was $400 per month, but that covered three other people besides the child, then only 1/4 of the monthly premium would be part of the child support calculation. Once those figures are added together, the total is then multiplied by the non-custodial parent’s percentage of the combined gross monthly income. If the non-custodial parent pays the health insurance premium, that amount (the same pro rata share referenced above) is then deducted. The result is the monthly child support award that is presumed to be used.

Under certain circumstances, a court may deviate from the presumed award under the Rule 32 formula just outlined. “When the court determines that the application of the guidelines would be manifestly unjust or inequitable and then deviates from those guidelines in setting a support obligation, the court must make the findings required by Rule 32(A)(ii), Ala. R. Jud. Admin. M.S.H. v. C.A.H., 829 So.2d 164, 169 (Ala.Civ.App.2002) (citing Thomas v. Norman, 766 So.2d 857, 859 (Ala.Civ.App.2000)). Rule 32(A), Ala. R. Jud. Admin., allows the trial court to deviate from the guidelines so long as the deviation is based on “evidence presented in court” contained in a “written finding on the record.” In other words, the subsection requires the trial court to state a reason justifying its deviation from the guidelines.” DeYoung v. DeYoung, 853 So. 2d 967, 970 (Ala.Civ.App.2002). In circumstances where the parties exercise “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” may constitute a “reason for deviating from the guidelines,” the rule further notes that “[t]he existence of one or more of the reasons enumerated in this section does not require the court to deviate from the guidelines.Boatfield v. Clough, 895 So. 2d 354, 356 (Ala.Civ.App.2004). In other words, true joint/shared custody may (and often does) result in a deviation from the Rule 32 formula, but that such is not guaranteed. In the vast majority of cases, the Rule 32 formula is applied without a deviation.


There countless circumstances that could be present in a child support matter that would effect the outcome of any award. You should consult with a child support attorney about any questions you may have about your own case. You can reach our Firm at either out Birmingham office at 205.937.3687 or our Blount County, Alabama office at 205.683.0660. The following is required by the Ala. Rules of Professional Conduct:
No representation is made that the quality of legal services performed is greater than those of other attorneys.
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