Providing for your children is a primary tenet of being a parent. Caring and compassionate parents want what is best for their children, regardless of whether they are still together with the biological or adoptive partner. That includes providing the financial flexibility to provide for their fundamental needs, as well as potential add-ons.
The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines are meant to make the process of determining and paying child support simple. The relationship between the parents may become strained though if one parent decides to minimize or conceal their income. This can exacerbate existing tension and create a feeling of inequity between the estranged spouses.
You do not need to settle for unjust or incorrect child support payments. Your financial well-being and the livelihood of your children are at stake. Find a proactive attorney who will look out for your interests and ensure you get the fairness and justice you deserve in this sensitive process.
If you live in the greater Knoxville metro area, the team at Landry & Azevedo is here to help. We have settled many child support disputes thanks to the knowledge and experience of our attorneys. Discover for yourself what has made us one of the top law firms in the state for child support cases by scheduling a consultation with us today.
Setting the Terms of Child Support in Tennessee
Both biological parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their children after a divorce. The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines are most often used to determine the quantity and frequency of the payments. Divorcing spouses can also opt to discuss and agree upon their own financial payment system, though, if both parties are cooperative.
Even if there is not an equal split of the custody rights, both parents are required to pay child support. For noncustodial or alternative residential parents (ARPs), this often means making payments until the child turns 18, or when they graduate from high school in the year in which they turned 18, whichever comes second. If any of these guidelines are confusing, our attorneys will talk you through the jargon and break down the stipulations.
Calculating Child Support in Tennessee
Tennessee state law utilizes the Income Shares worksheet in conjunction with the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines to establish child support payments. The form is designed to lay the groundwork for each parent’s financial obligations. Parents must disclose their gross income on the form, including credits and federal benefits for the children.
Once the paperwork is filled out, the state uses the Income Share Method to determine the child support amounts. The total is calculation is done automatically to ensure complete accuracy. If you are curious about what your child support payment will be, you can use The State of Tennessee Child Support Calculator.
Enforcing Child Support in Tennessee
The million-dollar question is: “What happens when one parent does not pay child support?” Paying child support is a legal obligation, so not doing so means the parent is violating a court order. Consequently, they are subject to civil or criminal contempt of court and may be incarcerated.
Other options include:
Lowered credit score.
Liens and attachments.
Restrictions on a passport.
Seizing tax refund or benefits.
Suspension of driver’s license.
Withholding income or garnishing wages.
Deviating from the Child Support Guidelines
The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines are meant to be fair and straightforward. The goal of the manual is to avoid a scenario where parents of comparable resources pay vastly different amounts. Even when a situation like this occurs, the court may opt to deviate from the guidelines.
One of the most common scenarios is when one parent deliberately remains unemployed or underemployed. Minimizing their gross income is one way of paying less child support and can be used to spite the former spouse. If the court finds this to be the case, based on the neglectful parent’s age, health, occupation, and work experience, the judge will use their discretion.
There are other exceptions to these standard guidelines as well. The court may tweak the payments if one or more of the children have special medical or educational needs. In this case, the primary residential parent will need to prove there are additional expenses that the worksheet did not consider.
Learn More About Child Support in Tennessee
Regardless of the relationship between the former spouses, there are legal obligations to support the children until they become financially independent adults. Paying child support provides the primary residential parent with the resources to provide for the children adequately. That can include covering food, rent, travel, education, health insurance, and more.
Even though the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines are meant to be fair and equal to both parties, an imbalance can form when one parent decides not to pay some or all their child support. Fortunately, with the assistance of an attorney, there are methods to enforce this contempt of court. Making sure you restore equal payments can make all the difference in the world.
Landry & Azevedo has you covered when you need to navigate the child support system, whether you are negotiating terms or need help with enforcement. Our team of attorneys in Knoxville has assisted numerous parents in fighting for a better future for their children. Call our offices at 865-851-7050 to learn what we can do for you.