Child Support Establishment and Modification in Tennessee

Do you need assistance with establishing child support or are you looking to modify an existing agreement in Memphis? If so, Attorney Shannon A. Jones can help you put in place an agreement that takes your financial situation into careful consideration, and ensures that your child is taken care of.

Both parents are required by Tennessee law to financially provide for their children until they reach the age of 18. To provide a uniform method for determining child support responsibilities and obligations, Tennessee has a set of rules used by all courts in the state to establish child support.

Tennessee child support law requires that the income of both parents be compared and then assigns to each parent a percentage of financial responsibility in proportion to that parent’s income and parenting time. If a parent has no income or is underemployed, the court will assign income to the parent based on what it believes they are capable of earning based on their employment history and education.

The parent who cares for the child the majority of the time (the “primary residential parent” or “custodial parent”) typically receives the child support payments because Tennessee law assumes this parent spends money directly on the child. The parent with less time (“alternate residential parent” or “noncustodial parent”) is the one who typically makes the payments. Parents who are owed child support are referred to as “obliges,” while parents who owe child support are called “obligors.”

If you are having an issue with child support, you need the help of an experienced Tennessee family law attorney with experience handling child support cases. Attorney Shannon A. Jones understands that parents in the Memphis area can experience financial difficulty caused by improper calculation of child support. He handles child support matters with skill to get the child support matter resolved quickly and correctly. Reach us by phone at (901) 562-3605 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Tennessee Child Support Guidelines

The state of Tennessee has established guidelines for setting and modifying child support award amounts. The Tennessee Department of Human Services is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the child support program as well as creating the rules that govern child support.

Tennessee’s child support guidelines are intended to provide for many different circumstances. No two families are alike, and the incomes of parents vary widely. The number of children in the household, their educational needs, and medical needs varies among families as well. While many factors need consideration, remember that the family court judge has limited discretion to deviate from the guidelines.

Child support in Tennessee is calculated using the “Income Shares Model” which determines child support between the parents by examining various factors. The Income Shares Model of child support is based on the belief that children should receive the same amount of financial support when their parents are divorced as they would have had their parents stayed together.

Tennessee provides a Child Support Calculator to help parents determine their child support payments. The Child Support Calculator computes child support based on several factors, including:

  • Number of days the child spends with each parent.
  • Both parents’ total gross income.
  • Costs of work-related childcare
  • Insurance payments made on behalf of the child

It’s worth noting that the child support calculator can produce unexpected results. Many lawyers are hesitant to estimate what your child support will be before running the numbers through the calculator. Typically, the parent paying child support thinks the support is too high, while the person receiving the support thinks it’s too low.In general, the court will adopt the results of the child support calculator without much discussion, so it is critical that you use accurate information when entering your data.

What Happens if a Parent Does Not Pay Child Support?

Child support is mandatory, and failure to pay child support is considered a criminal offense. If a noncustodial parent does not pay child support, they are subject to enforcement measures under federal and state child support laws to collect regular and overdue payments.

A court order establishing child support must be followed to avoid legal and financial consequences. Failure to comply with a child support order can lead to:

  • Garnishment of wages
  • Seizure of assets
  • Revocation of driver’s license
  • Liens against your home
  • Jail

Typically, these types of punishments are avoidable with a modification of your child support order.

Tennessee Child Support Modification

A number of circumstances may warrant child support modification. Tennessee law lays out specific guidelines for how to obtain a child support modification. Both parents have the right to request a modification of the child support order at any time.

All child support orders are calculated using the Income Shares Model, and modifications are allowed if the court finds there is significant variance. A significant variance is defined as:

  • A 15% or greater change between the current child support amount and the proposed presumptive support amount or
  • At least a 7.5% change if the parent seeking the modification is a low-income provider

A low-income provider is defined as a parent working at their full capacity based upon education and experience and below the federal poverty level based on Adjusted Gross Income.

If either parent has gone through significant life changes or if the child’s financial needs have changed, parents can request a modification. Circumstances that may be grounds for a parent to seek a modification of child support include:

  • Change in employment or job loss
  • Major increase or decrease in income
  • Change in the financial needs of the child
  • Child turns 18 years old

Contact a Memphis Child Support Attorney

Speak with an attorney if you are interested in learning more about modifications of child support. Memphis family law lawyer Shannon A. Jones can provide you the information you need to make decisions that are in the best interest of your family.

Attorney Shannon A. Jones has over 20 years of experience helping parents in the Memphis area resolve child support disputes. If you are interested in obtaining the financial assistance that will help you support your child, or perhaps you are concerned about the child support payments you will be asked to pay, Shannon A. Jones can help you navigate the complex legal system. Call today at (901) 562-3605 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.