Whether because of divorce, separation, or having never lived together, anytime the parents of a minor child do not reside in the same home one parent is typically responsible for paying child support to the other parent. The Tennessee child support rules and procedures can be complicated and difficult to navigate. With that in mind, a Murfreesboro child support lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains what you need to know about child support in Tennessee.
What Is Child Support?
The law defines child support as one parent’s obligation to pay the other parent for the support and maintenance of their child, in response to a court ruling. Just as both parents share equal rights to a child, so do both parents share in the responsibilities involved in raising a child. Among the responsibilities shared by both parents is the need to contribute financially to the care and maintenance of the child. When the parents reside together, the law presumes both parents are fulfilling their financial responsibilities to the child; however, when the parents live apart, the law may intervene by ordering one parent to pay child support to the other parent.
How Is Child Support Ordered?
The law in Tennessee is very clear about a parent’s obligation to support a child without regard to the marital status of the parents. While child support is typically ordered when the married parents of a child go through a divorce, child support can also be ordered under other circumstances. For example, if the parents are married and decide to separate but not divorce, child support can be ordered as part of the legal separation proceedings. If the parents were never married, a court can also order child support once legal paternity of the child has been established. Legal paternity can be established by an agreement that requires the execution of an affidavit or by a court after receiving the results of a DNA test.
How Long Is Child Support Paid?
Under Tennessee law, parents are legally obligated to provide financial support to a child until the child reaches the age of 18 or until he/she graduates from high school. Parents may agree to continue child support through post-secondary education or until a later date; however, the law only mandates that support be provided through high school. In addition, if the child has severe physical and/or mental disabilities, the duty to financially support the child may continue into adulthood or indefinitely.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Tennessee?
The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines are used when calculating child support within the state. Because every child and every situation are unique, you should consult with an experienced child support attorney if you have specific questions about your child support obligation or benefits. In general, however, Tennessee uses the income share model when calculating child support. The income share model combines the income of both parents to determine how much money is available for the care and maintenance of the child each month. Each parent is responsible for his/her share of that income “pot” as determined by the parent’s percentage of the combined income. For example, imagine that Anastasia earns $10,000 per month and Juan earns $7500 per month for a total of $17,500. Anastasia earns about 57 percent of the combined income and Juan earns the remaining 43 percent. If the amount determined to be available for their child is $4,000 per month, Anastasia would be responsible for contributing $2,280 and Juan would be responsible for $1,750.
These figures, however, are just a starting point. Adjustments can be made for things such as parenting time (overnights that the child spends with the non-custodial parent), childcare expenses, medical insurance premiums, educational expenses, other children if a parent is legally obligated to support those children.
After all deductions and credits have been factored into the child support calculations, the final numbers are used by the court to enter an order that legally obligates one parent to pay child support to the other parent.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Support Lawyer
If you have additional questions about child support in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child support lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.