child support in Tennessee

What is child support enforcement like in Tennessee?

Are you a custodial parent struggling with the financial demands of raising a child? Has the other parent skipped out on their child support payments?

Child support is a way to help the child maintain the same quality of life they would have if their parents lived together.

Unfortunately, many non-custodial parents fail to keep up on their court-ordered child support — the sad thing is it’s their child who pays the most significant price.

This situation can be very frustrating for everyone involved. It’s in the best interest of the children to find a resolution quickly and responsibly.

You may be dealing with a parent who doesn’t want to help support their child, and you want to know what your options are. If you live in Tennessee and the other parent stopped paying child support, keep reading to see what options are available to you.

How to Establish Child Support 

During a divorce, it’s common for one parent to spend less time with their child. That non-custodial parent may end up having to pay child support.

In Tennessee, the amount of support owed will be calculated by using both parents’ income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. You will need a court order by a judge to enforce child support.

You can obtain a court order for child support in multiple ways. In an uncontested divorce, both parents may agree on the amount of child support paid.

In this situation, the judge will sign off on your agreement and put an official child support order in place. But if you and the other parent disagree, then you may end up in court.

When a Parent Refuses to Pay Child Support

After a court order for child support is issued, the non-custodial parent must pay the ordered amount. If they refuse to pay their child support, the first thing you will want to do is communicate with them.

Some judges don’t like when parents wait long periods before seeking collection of child support owed. You’ll want to reach out to the non-custodial parent as soon as they fall behind on payments.

You’ll also need to keep documentation of all communication. Communicate through emails and text messages when requesting the payment. This documentation may very well help your case if you go to court.

4 Methods for Enforcing Child Support

Tennessee family law judges have several different ways they can enforce a child support order. Let’s take a look at 4 of the top methods that judges can use to enforce support.

  1. Withholding Wages: A judge might decide to withhold the non-custodial parent’s wages or other incomes. They can also seize bank accounts and/or investment assets.
  2. Seizing Tax Refunds: A judge might intercept a federal tax refund to help pay back child support.
  3. Hold in Contempt: A judge might hold a non-custodial parent in contempt of court for violating an existing child support order. If a judge finds a Tennessee parent in contempt, the judge can order them to pay the other parent’s attorney fees, and they might spend some time in jail.
  4. File Criminal Charges: In extreme cases, a person might receive criminal charges for not paying court-ordered child support. This charge is called criminal arrest for flagrant non-support, and it’s a Class E Felony. This felony is usually a result of moving out of the state of Tennessee to avoid a child support obligation. When a judge charges a parent with flagrant non-support, they may end up serving up to 6 years in prison with a fine of up to $5,000.

When to Seek Legal Action

Everyone has a different opinion about how late child support payments should be before seeking legal action, but a good rule of thumb is between 45 to 90 days.

If you file before 45 days, there’s still a chance that a check is on the way. However, even if you wait until after 90 days have passed, you can still file with the court because the other parent owes that money.

A Tennessee family law attorney can look at the non-custodial parent payment history and determine if legal action is necessary.

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you are having a hard time collecting child support payments from a non-custodial parent, it can be very frustrating. The money is for the benefit of your child, and it’s important that you receive it — that’s why we work so diligently to get you and your family the compensation you deserve.

As an experienced Tennessee family law attorney, Hunter Fowler fights to make sure your child is taken care of. If you have any questions about enforcing child support orders, book a call with Hunter Fowler Law right away, and get the expert legal help of an experienced family law attorney who cares.