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Child Support: The Facts

July 9, 2013

Family Law NashvilleHave you or a loved one ever had the responsibility of securing child support for a family member? If so, you probably already know that the process can be a little confusing. That’s why we want to make sure that you are aware of three major facts related to the child support process in the United States:

Did you know…

  •  Child support laws are different in each state?

Based on its vision of how to protect and support the well being of children within its borders, each state has its own laws and set of guidelines which must be followed. That means that when you have questions about your unique family situation, it’s very important to seek legal advice from lawyers with expertise about your state of residence.

  •  In 2005, Tennessee’s Child Support Guidelines changed dramatically?

Before 2005, the amount of child support owed each month was based on only one figure: a percentage of the supporting parent’s total income.

For example, when the state had to decide how much the supporting parent must pay to support a single child, it commonly ruled that 21% of the supporting parent’s income must be devoted to child support payments.

In 2005, because it determined that this method wasn’t fair, Tennessee made a massive overhaul in the way it calculated the amount a parent should pay to support a child and called it Income Shares.

  •  The Child Support Worksheet offers a neutral way to determine child support totals?

After 2005, Tennessee decided that a single percentage cannot paint the whole picture for the financial situations of most families. Instead, the State decided that many more factors must be considered when determining how much the supporting parent should contribute.

That’s why, to implement Income Shares, the state developed the “Child Support Worksheet.” This worksheet asks for detailed information about the income of each parent, the number of days the child or children spend with each parent, the cost of childcare and insurance, and whether a parent supports other children.

Once this information is entered into the Child Support Worksheet, the dollar amount one parent owes to the other is calculated.  Unless a judge agrees for a valid reason to a deviation, that is the amount that will be used as child support until it is changed by another court order.  The parents cannot decide on their own to a different amount, they cannot decide to change the amount, and one parent can’t decide not to pay the support, even with the agreement of the other parent.  Also, child support does not go away.  It cannot be discharged by bankruptcy, or even by the supporting parent being in prison.  Even after a child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever comes later, any outstanding support must be paid.

If you may become obligated to pay child support, or are paying it now and need to have it modified or terminated, you should consult with an attorney to have them explain how child support will work in your particular circumstances.

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