Even Celebrities Fight Over Child Support Nothing is guaranteed in life other than death and taxes, right? Your job — whatever that may be — is not exempt from that rule. Success isn’t a single goal, and what it means for you and the life you lead can and probably will change several times over the years. Whether you simply decide to move on to something else or unpredictable happenings force you out, we all mostly understand that, well, stuff happens.

Regardless of that “stuff” happening, you may find yourself with set obligations. These obligations do not usually care what else is going on in your life or how your circumstances may change. In cases of child support, many people seem to be finding this out the hard way. If you are responsible for paying child support at a certain amount and then you lose your job, then what? Is your ex really allowed to demand more than you have to survive?

For fans of Grey’s Anatomy, the name Jesse Williams probably rings a bell. He played the beloved Jackson Avery for over a decade before departing from the character in the 17th season. You may already know this. What you may not know, however, is just how much that decision to leave has affected, and it’s a great — albeit frightening — example of how difficult and exhausting child support obligations can be.

Jesse and his ex-wife have two children between them, and since their 2019 divorce, he has been paying her both spousal and child support. Celebrity or not, this was no pocket change, either. The agreed-upon initial amount was a whopping $40,000 a month. Not a year, not a quarter — a month. This was also after he paid hundreds of thousands in legal fees for the divorce itself.

Now, as painful as these numbers are, they are what Jesse agreed to. But then, of course, he left the show. He didn’t only say goodbye to fans and a large chapter of his life, but also dependable, steady, and generous paychecks that were a big part of the consideration that lead to those $40,000 payments. So, as one would reasonably expect, he filed paperwork to get his child support order modified to reflect his lower income, but his ex-wife isn’t exactly understanding about the situation. In her eyes, he should not have left the show if it meant he could not afford his payments, no matter the circumstances around it.

And this is where people are in for a rude awakening. You may think, “So what? It’s not up to her, it’s up to a judge,” but that isn’t as true as we would like it to be. Believe it or not, in Tennessee, the recipient does have the ability to not only enforce the original order, but to order back payments as well. While a judge can overrule this, they take the recipient’s opinion on the situation very seriously — usually, more seriously than the payer’s. It is for this reason that working with a Franklin child support attorney to modify your child support order is so vitally important if you want a chance at it happening.

How is child support determined?

Every state handles child support a little differently, but they all have the same basic goal in mind: to ensure the best interests of the children are met. In Tennessee, there are guidelines that are meant to cover as many circumstances as possible as a framework for how payments are decided on. For example, how much each parent makes a year plays a very important role, as child support is meant to be as equitable as possible, but it’s not as simple as just a salary. Child support is dictated by income shares, and that includes salary/wages, benefits, interest on accounts, dividends and annuities, bonuses, and so much more. Minimizing the economic impact on children, ensuring their basic needs are met, and offering them some stability are all goals under Tennessee’s child support laws.

Can you modify your child support obligations after a job change?

On paper, these are great goals, and everything seems fair. But life is rarely so cut and dry — or dependable. What your salary is now may not be your salary in a year, or five, or ten. Not only that, but your ex may be fighting for you to pay an amount that is definitely not equitable or manageable, or may be otherwise unwilling to compromise when circumstances change. You don’t want to make the mistake of assuming this can never happen to you, because it really can. It happens in general more than you may think, no matter who you are.

You need a legal professional on your side who knows how to fight against your ex’s pushback in a way the law will both recognize and reward. Whether your ex likes it or not, the court does still value fairness above all else. In Tennessee, you’re able to request a modification to your child support order if you have experienced a significant change in your income. This is called a significant variant, and it’s a way to show the court you’re no longer living or able to sustain the same lifestyle among other things.

Do I need to hire a Franklin child support attorney?

People are tempted to forgo hiring an attorney for these situations because no, you are not legally required to hire a lawyer. If you can meet that significant variant, you may contact your local Child Support Program office or file the paperwork yourself in court. Initially, both of these options are cheaper because they don’t involve an attorney. Please, heed the word “initially.” While initially you may pay less, attempting to navigate such an emotional, complicated, and finicky legal path without a trained professional on your side will almost undoubtedly end up with you paying way more in the long run. Your petition can be rejected if you make a mistake or omission (even an honest, accidental one), and you will also still be responsible for any and all court fees. If your ex-spouse has their own attorney, you should have one, too.

Child support disputes of any sort can be wrought with roadblocks, obstacles, and untold stress, especially when the parties involved cannot be civil or understanding of each other. Our children are the most important beings in our lives, but people still need to afford to support themselves — especially after a sudden financial change.

The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates have years of experience helping clients with their family law disputes, no matter what they may be. From child support modifications to visitation rights, we know how complicated and important each and every case is, and we are dedicated to making sure our clients are given the fairness and consideration they deserve. We represent folks in Franklin, Columbia, Brentwood, and throughout and central Tennessee, and we will be proud to represent you. For a free initial consultation, call us today at 615-977-9370  or use our contact form.