When the parents of a minor child decide to end their marriage, or choose not to marry to begin with, the law imposes a legal obligation on both parents to continue to financially support the minor child until the child reaches adulthood. If you find yourself in a position where you believe you will be ordered to pay child support for a minor child, it is in your best interest to make sure you have a clear understanding of your legal responsibilities and obligations to your child. Although every child support order is unique, a LaVergne divorce lawyer has offered to explain the basics of child support in Tennessee.
Your Parental Rights and Responsibilities
As the parent of a minor child the law grants you a number of rights with regard to the child as well as imposes on you a number of legal responsibilities relating to the child. Your rights to the child may include things such as the right to make important decisions about the child’s life, the right to spend time with the child, and the right to have frequent communication with the child. The legal responsibilities to have toward the child are primarily related to your obligation to contribute to the child’s care and maintenance from birth through the age of majority.
Creating a Parenting Plan
Your rights and responsibilities are typically set forth in a Parenting Plan at the time of a divorce or at the time paternity is legally established. Ideally, the parties (the parents) are able to decide on the terms of the Parenting Plan without the need for the court’s intervention. When that is the case, those terms are reduced to writing within the plan and the entire Parenting Plan is submitted to the court for approval. If the parents are unable to reach an amicable agreement thaon the terms.
The overall purpose of a Parenting Plan is to create a “roadmap” for the parents to follow post-divorce, or after paternity has been established. Some of the most common issues addressed in a Parenting Plan include:
- Custodial arrangements for the minor child
- Parenting time with the minor child
- Who will have decision making authority
- Who will carry, and pay for, health insurance for the child
- Child support
How Is Child Support Calculated in Tennessee?
The law requires both parents to continue to contribute financially to a minor child without regard to the status of the parents’ relationship. In Tennessee, the parent who pays child support is typically the “Alternative Residential Parent (ARP)” while the parent who receives child support is usually the “Primary Residential Parent (PRP).” Ultimately, the amount of child support the ARP pays is determined using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines are lengthy and complex; however, the basic concept is simple. Because both parents are required to contribute to the cost of raising the child, the income of both parents is combined into a theoretical “pot.” Each parent is assigned a percentage of the pot. For example, if you earn $2,000 a month and your spouse earns $6,000, there is a combined total of $8,000 available to the child. Your share of the total is 25 percent and your spouse’s share is 75 percent. At this point, the you must refer to the Guidelines to determine how much of the combined income should be made available to the child. For instance, let’s assume the Guidelines indicate that of the $8,000 earned by both parents each month, $2,000 should be used for the care and maintenance of the child. Your share of the $2,000 each month is $500 ($2,000 x 0.25 = $500) while the other parent would be responsible for the remaining 75 percent, or $1,500. If no other deductions or credits applied, child support would then be ordered in the amount of $1,500 payable from the ARP to the PRP.
How Can a LaVergne Divorce Lawyer Help?
The above example provides an overview of how child support is determined in Tennessee; however, in real life it is usually much more complicated to determine what your child support obligation will be or how much you will receive. To get an idea of how much you will actually be ordered to pay or receive, consult with an experienced LaVergne divorce lawyer.
If you have additional questions or concerns about child support in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced La Vergne divorce lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.
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