Can You Pay for Child Support in Advance in Tennessee?

Can You Pay for Child Support in Advance in Tennessee? Paying child support is typically done by withholding agreements on the payer’s check. Tennessee courts can also withhold tax return payments if a person falls behind on child support. While this is the norm, not everyone has a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck. Some individuals work for themselves and are not paid weekly, while others work on commission.

Payment is handled differently in these cases. For example, a parent can send individual payments to the court, which will then distribute the funds to the other parent. He or she can set up an automatic withdrawal, too, from an account. But what if you come into some money, like a large return on an investment or a bonus? Can you make advance payments on child support orders?

The short answer is “maybe, but you shouldn’t.”

The drawbacks of lump-sum child support in Tennessee

Lump-sum payments are most often seen when a person is behind on child support, rarely as an advancement. There is no benefit to the paying party in making a lump sum payment, and the paying party is not relieved of their child support duties when they make an advanced payment. Paying an extra few bucks in advance is not a major cause for concern. However, when you are making a lump sum payment for months for child support, you can end up hurting yourself in the long run if something goes awry and the child support order needs to be modified.

You will need to show the court why you are paying the support in advance and where the money is coming from. Otherwise, your coparent can argue that you can pay more money than initially agreed upon, and petition to modify the order to secure more support for your child.

There will also need to be agreements between the two parties saying this is a lump sum child support payment and not a gift. If there is no legal documentation that states you are paying all of your support in advance, then you could still be on the hook for monthly payments despite having given a significant lump sum.

Lastly, all payments must be made directly to the court – not the other parent. The court is the one that handles child support dispersals. This means that you might need special dispensation from the court to pay the lump sum in the first place.  There is no guarantee that the court will agree to a lump sum advance payment. This option is reserved for back payments, not future payments.

Essentially, no, you cannot make child support payments in advance and end your support obligation – but you CAN set up an account for automatic withdrawal, and place all of the money in that. However, you must inform your lawyer, your ex-spouse, and the court that you are doing this so that it is not misconstrued as extra assets. Contact our Franklin child support attorney if you have any questions regarding your current child support agreement or your legal options for paying.

How is child support determined in Franklin?

Child support amounts will vary from child to child. The court will use a formula based on the Child Support Guidelines to determine how much support should be allocated in each case. Some of the factors Franklin courts use to determine support are:

  • Child custody agreements
  • The income of both parents (note that “income” shares include much more than just salary and wages)
  • If a parent pays support for another child
  • Additional resources the child’s needs like health insurance and childcare

Parenting time will also be considered when calculating a child support agreement. If there is equal parenting time, child support will be calculated differently.

Split parenting complicates child support even further. This theory applies when there are at least two children from the same parents. Essentially, both parents will have at least one child with them and are credited with having 50% custody.

NOTE: While visitation can affect your child support agreement, it is a separate issue entirely.

There are many unique complexities depending on how many children you have and your income. You should work with a Franklin child support attorney to find the best solution for you and your children. The court will heavily influence their decision in the child’s best interest, not the parents.

What counts as income in a child support order?

The court will look at the adjusted gross income for each parent involved when it comes to child support. There are several items that count as income aside from wages, including:

Self-employment income




Dividend income

Trust income

Fringe benefits

Severance pay

Retirement plans



Cash gifts

Lottery winnings


Workers compensation

Unemployment benefits

Legal judgments


There are many legal concerns for parties who are self-employed. Determining their support agreement is different than in traditional cases. When the paying party is self-employed, they will need to provide their latest tax return. The calculations will be much more complex if a person is newly self-employed. A Franklin child support attorney can ensure an accurate amount of future employment is reached.

A quick note about imputed income in Tennessee

Many individuals will try to lower their child support payments by voluntarily making less money. They will become unemployed or underemployed through their actions. These actions constitute imputed income. However, this “trick” does not work because the courts can still hold the parent liable for potential income. A judge will use the person’s work history and education level to calculate the potential revenue. So, no, you cannot lower your payments by taking a lower-paying job or quitting.

When dealing with child support issues, the other parent and court must not infringe upon your rights, and the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates work diligently to ensure that does not happen. If you have questions about child support, contact us at 615-977-9370 or use our convenient contact form. We have offices in Franklin, Brentwood, and Columbia for your convenience.