Under Tennessee law, both parents, whether they have ever been married or not, must provide material support for their children. When the parents live apart, the parent who spends most of the time with the children can petition the court for an enforceable child support order. Most requests for child support come during an action for divorce or legal separation, but unmarried parents can also request support if the issue of paternity is settled. At WalshLaw, I help parents on either side of a child support dispute obtain a fair order. Drawing on more than 15 years of family law experience, I work tirelessly to deliver the best possible results based on your true financial situation.
In general, the parent who has the children most of the time, known as the Primary Residential Parent (PRP), receives child support from the parent who has the children the least amount of time, known as the Alternative Residential Parent (ARP). Tennessee uses the income shares model to arrive at an amount of basic child support and then allows adjustments for additional expenses. The law also allows for deviations if the judge finds them appropriate and commits the reasons to writing.
The process involves several steps, including:
After a divorce, the court may impose a lien on an obligor’s real property as security for the payment of child support. In Tennessee, the obligation to pay child support lasts until the child’s 18th birthday or until age 19 if the child has not completed high school.
Despite guidelines designed to streamline and standardize child support orders, there are potential pitfalls throughout the process, and an adverse decision could haunt you for a very long time. To protect your financial interests and your children’s welfare, get knowledgeable assistance from WalshLaw in Nashville today.
A child support order has the force of law behind it. So, if an obligor does not pay, the obligee can use collection tools provided by the Tennessee Department of Human Services Child Support Program. When these administrative means fail, the obligee can go to court and file a motion of contempt. The court can then sanction the obligor for willful nonpayment, which can result in jail time.
However, even though some obligors withhold child support payments deliberately, many cases of unpaid child support result from inability to pay. Obligors may suffer an injury or illness that prevents them from working, or get laid off from their job. In these types of situations, the obligor should request a modification from the court. Modifications are available whenever an obligor has experienced a substantial change of circumstances, meaning they can show at least a 15 percent reduction in income. Obligors must understand that only the court can change a child support order, so informal agreements with the obligee change nothing. The obligee could go to court six or nine months after you made the informal agreement to reduce payments and ask the court to enforce the full amount. To protect yourself from further financial hardship, consult a family law attorney immediately and get the change in the order you need.
If you are not living with your child’s other parent, child support is one of the most important factors affecting your financial future. WalshLaw provides honest counsel and zealous advocacy in pursuit of fair child support orders. To schedule a consultation, call 615-240-7457 or contact my Nashville office online. My office is located at 4535 Harding Pike, just west of White Bridge Pike and Woodmont Boulevard.