Modifying Child Support in Tennessee

Child support is a critical aspect of divorce or separation proceedings involving children. In Tennessee, child support orders are established to ensure that children’s financial needs are met; however, circumstances can change over time, necessitating modifications to existing child support agreements. Understanding the process of modifying child support in Tennessee is crucial for parents seeking adjustments to these arrangements. With that in mind, a Murfreesboro child support attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses modifying child support in Tennessee.

Understanding Child Support in Tennessee

In Tennessee, child support is typically determined based on the “Income Shares Model,” which considers the income of both parents and the number ofmilitary-divorce-banner children requiring support. The state provides guidelines and worksheets to calculate child support obligations accurately. These guidelines aim to ensure fairness and consistency in child support determinations.

Grounds for Modifying Child Support in Tennessee

Whether you are the parent paying child support (the “payor”) or the parent receiving child support (the “payee”), you may feel that a modification to the existing order is warranted, Tennessee law does allow for child support modifications under certain circumstances. Common reasons for seeking modifications include:

  • A significant change in either parent’s income.
  • Changes in the child’s financial needs, such as healthcare or educational expenses.
  • Changes in the parenting time arrangement.
  • Emancipation of the child or children.
  • Job loss or substantial change in employment status.
  • Remarriage of either parent, leading to changes in financial circumstances.

It is essential to note that temporary financial difficulties or minor changes may not be sufficient grounds for modification. Instead, the court will typically require a substantial and material change in circumstances to consider modifying child support orders.

Initiating the Modification Process

To initiate a child support modification in Tennessee, the parent seeking the change must file a petition with the appropriate court. This typically involves filing a “Petition to Modify Child Support” form along with supporting documentation detailing the reasons for the requested modification. An experienced child support attorney can prepare the petition for you to ensure that it complies with legal requirements and adequately presents the case for modification.

Court Proceedings

Once the petition is filed, the court will schedule a hearing to review the case. Both parents will have the opportunity to present evidence supporting their positions regarding the proposed modification. This may include financial documents, such as tax returns, pay stubs, or evidence of changes in expenses related to the child’s needs.

During the hearing, the court will consider various factors, such as the financial resources of both parents and expenses related to the child, but keeping in mind that all decisions made must be made using the “best interest of the child” standard. The judge will then determine whether a modification to the child support order is warranted based on the evidence presented.

Can We Agree to a Child Support Modification?

In some cases, parents may be able to reach a mutually acceptable agreement regarding modification of the existing child support order without the need for a court hearing. This can be achieved through negotiations facilitated by attorneys or through alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation. If the parents reach a settlement agreement, they can submit the agreement to the court for approval. Once approved, the modified child support arrangement becomes legally binding.

Do I Need an Attorney to Modify Child Support in Tennessee?

Keep in mind that until a support order is officially modified by the court, both parents are legally obligated to comply with the existing order. Failure to pay child support as ordered can result in enforcement actions, such as wage garnishment, suspension of driver’s licenses, or other penalties.

Whether seeking an increase or decrease in child support obligations, modifying child support orders in Tennessee can be a complex process. While you are not legally required to be represented by an attorney, consulting with a knowledgeable child support attorney can provide invaluable guidance and assistance throughout the modification process. 

Contact a Murfreesboro Child Support Attorney 

If you have questions or concerns about modifying child support in Tennessee, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child support attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.


Dinah Michael