Need to Know: Child Support in Tennessee

Going through a divorce is never easy. It can be even more challenging and complicated when children are concerned. Child custody laws can be challenging to understand, and navigating the muddy waters of child support in Tennessee may have you tearing your hair out.

It doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re dealing with child custody and child support in a divorce, we’re here to help.

This article will discuss some factors you need to know that affect child support decisions and common mistakes to avoid when owing child support.

Factors Affecting Child Support Decisions

Tennessee child support laws play a huge role in all of the parenting time and child custody proceedings. Because of this, every parent going through a divorce should retain an expert lawyer well versed in family law for consultations.

Ordering a parent in Tennessee to pay child support starts with applying the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. Before any child support calculations can be made, both parents must complete the Tennessee Child Support Worksheets disclosing income from all of their sources.

With this data, Tennessee lawyers and judges will interpret both the child support law and guidelines to establish if and how much a parent should pay to maintain each child’s support.

Main Factors Affecting Child Support Decisions

  • The gross monthly income of each parent: Parents will submit paycheck stubs, W-2’s, and any other documentation showing income.
  • The number and age of the children: How many children there are and their ages are a factor in the child support amount.
  • The cost of medical insurance for each child: The person paying the health insurance for the child will get a credit in the income support formula.
  • The cost of daycare for each child: The courts will determine the amount each parent or one parent will pay.
  • The living arrangements of each child: The courts will need to know how many overnight visits the non-custodial parent will have.
  • Other dependents living in the home: The court will request dependency information from each parent.
  • The wishes of the parents: The court will consider each parent’s desires, especially if the parents agree.
  • The wishes of the children: Although the court may not hold much weight on what the child wants compared to the parents, social worker recommendations, or the lawyers, the court will take into consideration what the child wants.
  • The relationship between child and parents: The court will look at the relationship with each parent individually. The court will often use a social worker’s experience to determine how strong the bond is between each parent with the child to make the best custody choice.

Additional Factors May Include:

  • A parent’s bonuses or commissions that are earned outside of their basic salary.
  • Special education for children if needed.
  • How much of an adjustment the child will need.
  • An unusual visitation schedule.
  • Actual costs incurred, including unnecessary expenses.
  • Voluntary underemployment or unemployment.
  • Mental and physical health of the child or parents.
  • Other factors that may impact the child support payment owed.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Owing Child Support

Mistakes can happen to anyone as they are a part of life. But when it comes to owing child support, you want to take caution to avoid errors if at all possible. Making a mistake could cost you higher payments, back payments, or even court ordered arrest warrants.

Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when owing child support.

Failing to Pay

If the parent ordered to pay the child support misses a payment for any reason, the other will be permitted to file a motion for contempt of court in order to force payment.

Remedies include:

  • Court withholding payments
  • Criminal penalties

Hiding or Lying About Your Income

You should never try to hide assets in your divorce or lie about anything. Trying to hide income, including side jobs – or that fun little craft business where you sell on places like Etsy – from the courts or your ex-partner when you pay or receive child support.

The judgment is strong if you are caught lying. It looks terrible on your character and definitely wouldn’t put you in the court’s favor for being the custodial parent.

Making Child Support Payments Outside of the Court’s Method

Many counties in Tennessee use wage garnishment methods to collect court-ordered child support payments. It’s a streamlined approach making it simpler to collect the amount due directly through the payroll process from the payer’s employer.

Funds are collected and sent to the local child support services office. From there, they automatically transfer to the other parent. Since each county has its own child support payment processing, these should be the only methods you use to alleviate any potential hassles down the road.

Not Reporting Changes in Income or Employment

You always want to report to the courts any changes in income. This includes raises or loss wages – especially if there’s been a change in employers. Once you report the changes, you can request a modification to lower your child support payments.

Modifications could also raise the child support amount. It’s best to request the modification on your own than have the other parent petition the courts for the withheld information of a wage increase.

Feeling overwhelmed?

If you are experiencing a divorce and unsure about all of the child support and custody laws, we’re here to help. Contact the offices of divorce attorney Hunter Fowler today, so you don’t have to go through this journey alone. He’s here to listen and guide you through the legal process and win the best possible outcome for you.