The law of the State of Tennessee requires both parents of a minor child to be financially responsible for that child until the child reaches adulthood. When the parents of a minor child are not together, that responsibility is typically enforced through a child support order. Whether you are the payee or the payor, the child support system can be difficult to navigate. In an effort to help those involved in the child support system, a Smyrna child support lawyer offers answers to five commonly asked questions:
- How much child support will I have to pay or will I receive? The amount of child support you are ordered to pay, or that you receive, will depend on a number of factors and will be calculated using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines compute child support by starting with the combined income of both parents and determining a percentage of income for both parents. For example, if you have $4,000 of income each month and the child’s other parent $6,000 of income each month, you would be assigned 40 percent and the other parent 60 percent of the financial responsibility for the child. Deductions are also made for things such as insurance premiums, other court ordered support obligations, and time the child spends with a parent. The Tennessee Basic Child Support Obligation Schedule is then used to determine how much support the child should receive between the two parents. If the parents have $10,000, collectively, available for the child’s support, for instance, the Support Schedule indicates that $1,158 should be spent on the child each month. That amount is then attributed to each parent according to the appropriate percentage of the income the parent earns. For the parent who earns 40 percent of the income, he/she would be responsible for $463 in support while the parent earning 60 percent of the income would be responsible for $695.
- I was never married to the child’s mother. Do I still have to pay support? It depends on whether or not paternity has been established. Once paternity has been legally established, you will have legal parental rights to the child and have a legal responsibility to financially support the child.
- My child’s other parent won’t let me see my child. Can I stop paying child support? NO. Child support and parenting time are not connected in the eyes of the law. If you are having problems exercising your rights to parenting time with your child, that needs to be addressed separately in court; however, you cannot legally withhold child support in protest.
- Can I get the child support order decreased/increased? Possibly. Child support orders are one of the few types of court orders that are routinely revisited down the road. As a general rule, you must show that there has been a “significant variance” in income before a modification will be granted and/or that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.” A significant variance in income is generally considered a change of 15 percent or more. A substantial change in circumstances might include the birth of a new child, a child has become disabled, or a child has been emancipated.
- What happens if I get behind on my child support payments? If you fall behind on your court ordered child support payments, there are a number of things that could happen. You could find yourself back in court, in front of a judge, trying to explain why you haven’t made your payments as ordered. Because child support is an order of the court, failing to pay it as ordered can be considered contempt of court that could result in a number of different enforcement actions, including:
- Placing a lien on your property
- Revoking your driver’s license
- Seizing bank accounts in your name
- Denying you a passport
- Intercepting your federal or state income tax refunds
- Reporting the amount owed to credit bureau
If you have specific questions regarding child support in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Smyrna child support lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.