Divorce is never an easy process, but it can be even harder if there are children involved. Fighting for custody can be an ugly process, and landing on the logistics of proper support for the children can be just as difficult.
In the state of Tennessee, child support laws play a huge role in all child custody cases. Tennessee’s laws on the matter are unique to the state and are essential to get familiar with if you are going through a divorce involving children.
Need to learn about Tennessee child support laws fast? Read on and we’ll walk you through everything you need to know.
What is Child Support?
If you’ve just started the divorce proceedings for your own marriage, you may not yet be familiar with the broad concepts of the legal process.
Child support is one parent’s obligation to pay the other parent for the support and care of their children. Under Tennessee law, every parent has a legal requirement to support their child. Two spouses share equal and joint responsibility. This responsibility extends to the day the child turns eighteen years old.
In all divorces, one parent is deemed the Primary Resident Parent (PRP) while the other parent is deemed the Alternative Resident Parent (ARP). This distinction is made when fighting for custody.
The Alternative Resident Parent is responsible for paying child support costs to the Primary Resident Parent, who will often take on the majority of responsibilities involving the child.
This broad concept is often cut and dry, though the application of it on a case by case basis might end up being very complicated. Applications of child support law often vary depending on the specifics of the family situation, and seeking an attorney’s perspective early on can help one prepare for potential differences.
How is Tennessee Child Support Calculated?
One area where child support requirements differ from family to family? The amount required for the payments themselves.
How much child support is required by Tennessee law? It really depends on the income a family has. Earnings and income from all sources are looked over by a judge and used to calculate the proper amount of child support needed.
The number of nights a child is expected to spend with each parent, as well as concerns like health insurance and schooling, are taken into consideration when landing on a child support amount.
While both parents have an equal responsibility to support a child, divergent incomes between the two will be taken into account when landing on child support amounts.
Income in the state of Tennessee is defined as a large variety of possible revenue streams, including wages, salaries, commissions, tips, bonuses, overtime payments, retirement plans, pensions, social security, investments, lawsuit awards, lottery winnings, unemployment benefits, and more.
This long list ensues that an ARP can’t maintain wealth through one form of income and avoid being hit with a proper payment requirement.
Instances of Non-Payment
There will be certain scenarios in which an ARP will attempt to either pay less than the intended total of their support or will avoid paying what they owe altogether.
They might hideout in the state or leave Tennessee altogether. In order to ensure departure from the state won’t inhibit justice from being served, the Tennessee state government has allowed long-arm enforcement policies that allow the federal government to assist in the capture of those who owe parental support.
Child Support Services Enforcement can take a number of steps to go after a parent who is refusing to pay their fair share of support. They can place a lien on the person’s property, revoke their passport and driver’s license, and even attempt to seize their bank accounts.
They might intercept a person’s tax return and put the money towards child support owed. The government can even go as far as the act of wage garnishment. This is where state or federal government officials reach out to an individual’s employer and request a certain percentage of their paycheck.
That money will be passed straight to the government to put towards support and never even enter the ARP’s hands.
If One Really Can’t Pay
If a person is willfully avoiding paying child support, the above actions would appear totally justified. However, what if a person has a change in their financial situation and simply cannot afford to pay? Wouldn’t these punishments be a bit harsh?
Tennessee child support laws take this kind of thing into account. If an ARP’s financial situation changes due to circumstances beyond their control, they can reach out to the courts with a request to modify their child support arrangement.
The court will re-look over all financial documents, including new ones, and come to a new conclusion based on the evidence collected. They likely will still owe some amount, but it might be an amount much lower than it was initially.
Hiring a child support attorney if one needs to modify their support arrangement can be very helpful in securing a happy outcome.
Understanding Child Support Laws in Tennessee
If you’re going through a divorce and have kids, it is absolutely essential that you take the time to understand how Tennessee child support works. Child support laws vary around the country, and you will need to know how the procedure works within the state to plan for what’s to come next.
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