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Child Support Calculation in Alabama


Child support in Alabama is determined using a specific set of guidelines established under Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. These guidelines are designed to ensure that child support is calculated fairly and consistently across the state. This article provides an overview of how child support is calculated in Alabama and offers insights into the discovery process used to accurately define the parties’ incomes.

Rule 32: The Basis for Child Support Calculation

Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration outlines a detailed method for calculating child support obligations. The calculation primarily involves the following steps:

1. Determine Gross Income: Both parents’ gross incomes are considered. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, and any other source of income.

2. Adjustments for Pre-Existing Child Support Orders: If either parent is already paying child support for other children, these payments are deducted from their gross income.

3. Calculate Combined Gross Income: The adjusted incomes of both parents are added together to get the combined gross income.

4. Apply the Income to the Child Support Guidelines Schedule: Alabama provides a schedule that lists the combined income of both parents and the corresponding child support obligation. This schedule is designed to approximate the amount that would have been spent on the child if the parents were living together.

5. Determine Each Parent’s Share of the Child Support Obligation: Each parent’s share is proportional to their income. For example, if one parent earns 60% of the combined income, they are responsible for 60% of the child support obligation.

6. Adjust for Health Insurance and Child Care Costs: Additional adjustments are made for health insurance premiums and work-related child care costs. These expenses are added to the basic child support obligation and divided between the parents according to their proportional share of the combined income.

7. Consider Deviations: The court may deviate from the guideline amount if it finds that the guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate, taking into account factors such as the needs of the child, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not dissolved, and the financial circumstances of both parents. Deviations are fact-driven considerations.

Discovery Process for Accurate Income Definition

People are not always honest about their incomes, especially if having a higher income may result in a higher child support obligation. Accurate determination of both parties’ incomes is crucial for a fair child support calculation. The discovery process is used to obtain the necessary financial information from both parents. Here’s how discovery typically works in child support cases:

1. Interrogatories: These are written questions that one party sends to the other. The receiving party must respond in writing and under oath. Interrogatories can include questions about employment, income, assets, and expenses.

2. Request for Production of Documents: This involves a formal request for specific documents such as tax returns, pay stubs, financial statements, loan applications, accounting files, bank statements, and any other financial records. These documents help provide a clear picture of the parent’s financial situation.

3. Depositions: A deposition is a sworn, out-of-court testimony. During a deposition, a party or witness answers questions posed by the attorneys. Depositions can be used to explore income details and verify information obtained through interrogatories and document requests.

4. Subpoenas: If necessary, a subpoena can be issued to compel a third party, such as an employer or financial institution, to provide documents or testimony.

5. Expert Witnesses: In some cases, financial experts such as forensic accountants may be employed to analyze financial data and provide an accurate assessment of a party’s income and financial status.


The calculation of child support in Alabama is a structured process governed by Rule 32 of the Alabama Rules of Judicial Administration. Understanding the guidelines and engaging in thorough discovery are essential to ensure that child support amounts are fair and reflect the true financial capabilities of both parents. By following the established procedures, both parties can work towards a resolution that serves the best interests of the child.

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