When a divorce involves minor children, the law requires both parents to continue contributing to the financial support of the children post-divorce. That typically means that one parent will be ordered to pay child support to the other parent. Along with custodial arrangements, child support is among the most frequent issues revisited after a divorce is final. To help you understand your rights and options regarding child support in Tennessee, a Murfreesboro child support lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby offers some answers to commonly asked questions.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Tennessee?
When parents go through the legal process of divorce, a Parenting Plan must be approved by the court. Child support payments are one of many issues covered in the Parenting Plan. A base child support amount is typically calculated using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines. Those Guidelines use the Income Shares Model, which considers both parents’ combined adjusted gross income and the number of children requiring support. That produces the Basic Child Support Obligation (BSCO).
What Does Child Support Cover?
The BCSO is only intended to account for basic needs such as food, shelter, and public education. Certain child-related expenses are considered “additional” expenses and may be handled in several ways. If any of those additional expenses are added to the BSCO, the final support amount will be known as the Adjusted Support Obligation (ASO).
How Is Child Support Paid?
Most parents pay through an Income Withholding Order, meaning the child support payments are taken directly out of the parent’s paycheck and deposited with the court system. Payments can, however, be made by mail, phone, or online.
When Do Child Support Payments End?
This can vary depending on the terms of the divorce decree. In most cases, child support payments end when the child reaches age 19 or finishes high school; however, the terms of your divorce may require payments through college or may continue if the child is disabled. Conversely, payments may end if a child is emancipated (declared a legal adult).
Can I Get Child Support from a Parent Living in Another State?
Yes. All states are required by law to enforce child support orders from another state. Unless the venue is changed by a court, the court system responsible for enforcing a child support order will remain the original court but other states must cooperate with those enforcement efforts.
Does a New Child Impact Child Support?
If the payor (parent obligated to pay child support) has a new child that he/she is legally required to support it may decrease that parent’s child support obligation. The payment amount does not change automatically though. The payor would need to request a modification from the court and is legally obligated to continue paying the current amount until the court approves a modification.
Can I get My Child Support Amount Increased/Decreased?
Either parent has the right to request a modification of child support; however, you must show that there has been a “significant variance” for the court to approve a modification of the existing child support order. Tennessee considers a significant variance to occur if the proposed child support order varies from the current order by at least 15 percent. If the parties are considered “low-income” parents, the proposed order must vary by 7.5 percent or more. Because there are exceptions to the “significant variance” test it is always best to consult with an experienced Tennessee child support lawyer if you want to pursue a modification.
Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I Am Not Allowed to See My Children?
Child support and parenting time are separate legal issues. Your child support obligation is not tied to your ability to spend time with your children; however, if your Parenting Plan allows you parenting time that you are being denied, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney about enforcing your rights under the plan.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Support Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about child support in Tennessee, contact a Murfreesboro child support lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.