The rules regarding child support in Tennessee are pretty solid – but that doesn’t mean that the laws don’t change. As family lawyers, we know you have questions, and often those questions are the same from family to family. So we thought we should address some of the more common queries you have, to give you some insight into how the laws affect you and your children.
How much child support can my kids get?
In Tennessee, the courts are the one who determine how much child support your kids are entitled to receive. The most important thing to understand is that the courts look at both parents’ incomes, regardless of who has custody of the kids. So if you have custody and make 120,000, and your former spouse makes 20,000, the court will still require child support payments, based on how much you each make.
Besides income, what affects child support payments?
Did you know that if you win the Tennessee state lottery, it could affect how much support you pay? Or that that your potential income might also affect the amount? It’s true. The judge will also take other children from previous relationships into account, as well as medical insurance, the cost of day care and what kinds of sports teams or groups your children belong to.
I’ve lost my job, and I can’t afford my child support payments. What can I do?
First, talk to your former spouse. See if he/she will let you change the amount. If so, file an Agreed Order with the judge. (Most judges will sign off if both parents agree to the change.) If your spouse fights you on the change, you’ll need a Petition to Modify. As long as the change in your income is at 15%, you have a good case. If you’re the one receiving payments and your former spouse gets a big raise, you can also petition the court for more money. Either way, you want a child custody lawyer to help you.
I know my ex isn’t using the child support money for the kids. What can I do?
Other than petition for custody? Nothing: Tennessee family courts don’t require an account of how the money is spent, so sadly, there’s nothing to prevent your ex from spending that money on other things. We recommend that you keep records, though, as you may be able to use them to petition for custody later.
No matter what you do, make sure to hire a child custody attorney to help you. Family court can be a tricky place to navigate; you want an experienced lawyer on your side.