Alabama Child Support Calculator
Court may adjust support if combined income is more than $30,000.
Not in Alabama? Use your location's child support calculator.
Courts often use wrong parenting time estimates when calculating child support, which could make your child support either too high or too low.
Custody X Change calculates parenting time accurately, so your child support will have the fairest outcome for your kids.Start Tracking My Parenting Time
Child support in Alabama
In Alabama, the parent with less parenting time typically pays child support to the parent with more time.
Child support helps ensure that parents can meet their child's needs. The parent who receives this money doesn't have to prove how they spend it. The obligation normally ends when the child turns 19.
Use the Custody X Change calculator above to estimate the amount of your support order. Then keep reading to learn more about the process and anticipate what might happen in your case.
Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.
Alabama's child support formula
The formula begins with parents' combined monthly income (gross, not net) and number of children together. With that information, you can look up your basic obligation amount.
The formula then adjusts your basic obligation to reflect which parent earns more and who pays for child care and health insurance.
At the end, you'll have a recommended child support amount. The judge may consider any special circumstances facing your family.
If your combined income exceeds $30,000 per month, you're off the chart. In this situation, the judge has discretion.
Keep in mind that a parent who's owed child support may have some of it taken by the government if they also receive public assistance. The government will leave the parent $50 of the monthly child support plus any that exceeds their public assistance.
Even if you support the child financially in other ways (e.g., a trust fund), a judge may still order you to pay child support. A judge may award retroactive child support if there's a reason (e.g., support wasn't paid during an unusually long court case). And a judge may, occasionally, order one parent to pay for the other's lawyer.
How to request child support
All child support in Alabama is determined by a court, using the state formula as a guideline.
Whether you're making your first request or a change request, turn in the completed Child Support Guidelines worksheet when you open your child support case.
The process is easier when parents submit a proposal together. Especially because each Alabama county does things slightly differently, it's good to hire a lawyer who can guide you.
If the Department of Human Resources (DHR) gets involved and you're on public assistance, you won't pay court fees. DHR lawyers represent the state, and you won't pay them either. You have the option of finding and paying your own lawyer to represent you.
If you need to establish paternity
If paternity needs to be established, file a Complaint for Paternity and Child Support with your court. The mother can initiate the paternity case, or the father can initiate it. If either parent receives public assistance, DHR may initiate the paternity case.
If you've been treating a child as your own, suddenly denying your parenthood isn't a likely escape route from paying support. For example, a man can challenge his biological paternity during a divorce, but Alabama judges will usually require him to continue supporting his ex-wife's child financially if he's previously acted as the father.
If you're both already legal parents
You can ask for child support directly from the court. Do this when you open a divorce or child custody case or a little later in your court process. If you don't receive public assistance, this is likely the right approach for you.
Alternatively, you can open a Department of Human Resources child support case. If you receive public assistance, you won't pay court fees. DHR may open one on their own if they plan to take some of your child support money (typically because a parent receives government assistance or a child is in foster care).
Tips for filing your case
If you expect your case to drag on for a while (for example, because paternity is being decided at the same time), open the case normally and ask a court clerk or DHR employee how to request temporary child support in the meantime. Your case will eventually result in a permanent support order.
If you're asked which parent is "plaintiff" and which is "defendant," keep the same labels you used in your divorce or custody case (if any).
Asking for an amount that differs from the guideline
The judge may approve your request for a child support amount that's different from the guideline amount, especially if you and the other parent agree to it. You always need to give a financial reason (i.e., one based on your income or expenses).
A commonly accepted reason is shared parenting time. Alabama's child support guidelines don't adjust for parents who see their child nearly equally, even though these parents likely spend similar amounts of money on the child. If you're both active parents, that could be a reason to ask for a different support amount.
You can help convince the judge with the Custody X Change parenting time calculator. Once you customize a calendar in the app, it calculates your parenting time by hours or by overnights. Print the parenting time report to submit with the other parent or on your own.
When you might not get a support order
Your child is entitled to your financial support. You can't bargain it away.
However, financial reasons may justify not having a support order. The court might not order support if:
- You'll parent for equal amounts of time.
- You have similar incomes.
- You'll divide general expenses.
- You've planned how you'll handle large expenses (e.g., tuition, medical bills or travel).
How child support is paid
The state collects support in two main ways.
Unless the judge says otherwise, child support is deducted from a paycheck. This is called income withholding. When you get your court order for child support, you'll receive details about withholding. Expect these forms:
Funds withheld from a paycheck go to the Alabama Child Support Payment Center. If your paycheck deduction is interrupted, you can mail a check to the payment center. It's a good idea to include your SSN and your court case number.
The collected funds are ultimately disbursed to the other parent.
Actively sending payments
It's also possible for one parent to pay the other directly. Both parents (as well as the court) must agree to this. In writing, specify the payment method and when you'll send it. For example, you might agree to a bank transfer for half the monthly amount on each 1st and 15th. Though the individual payments won't be monitored, the overall agreement will be enforceable.
How child support is enforced
A parent who's late in paying will owe interest. If they fall more than $1,000 behind, the debt will be reported to credit agencies and a lien can be put on their property. If they fall more than one month behind and income withholding isn't in place, income withholding can begin. They can't have parenting time taken away, though, solely because they've fallen behind in support.
You can ask the court to charge the other parent with contempt if they regularly fail to pay. The other parent can respond by filing a motion to show cause, arguing that they're unable to pay.
DHR can ask the court to start these enforcement proceedings. DHR may file this request on their own, or you can ask them to do it — an affordable but possibly slow route.
How to change child support
Either parent can ask to change child support when circumstances change significantly, e.g., you gain or lose a job or your child has new medical expenses. Ask before payments become unaffordable or before your child's need becomes urgent.
If you ask DHR to review your order, be aware they may take up to six months to decide whether they'll pursue an adjustment. You may instead directly ask the court to change support, which may be faster but also costs more.
Depending on what your change of circumstances is — especially if you've gone on or off public assistance — DHR may change its involvement in your case.
If DHR is using your support order to recover government funds, they may take the initiative to review it once every three years — or anytime they believe your circumstances have changed. If their calculation suggests your support order should be at least 10 percent higher or lower and you don't have a judge's explanation for it, DHR will ask the court to adjust your order.
Keeping track of payments and expenses
Remember that a child support order is legally binding and must be taken seriously.
Whether you're paying or receiving support, the Custody X Change app can help you keep track of payments. Log details of every one into your expense tracker to ensure you're sticking to the court order.
You can also track other child-related expenses and print an invoice if the other parent needs to reimburse you.
Custody X Change keeps you on top of all aspects of child custody, including payments and expenses.
Visualize your schedule. Get a written parenting plan. Calculate your parenting time.