Can Child Support Payments Rise With the Cost of Living?

A divorce dissolves a marriage, but when a divorcing couple has kids, the parenting obligations remain. If you divorce in Tennessee, or if a child support dispute emerges after your divorce, you must have the representation and advice that a provides.

Parents in Tennessee are legally obligated to support their children financially until those children turn 18 years old. If the parents divorce, a Tennessee court usually decides that the non-custodial parent must make child support payments to the custodial parent.

After a divorce, the custodial parent provides for a child’s basic daily needs such as housing, food, education, and health care. If you’re a custodial parent and you receive child support each month, but your monthly costs are increasing, you’re going to need more to cover those costs.

How is Child Support Calculated in Tennessee?

When divorcing parents cannot reach a child support agreement voluntarily, the court will consider a variety of factors when it calculates the amount of child support that a non-custodial parent should pay each month to a custodial parent. These factors include but are not limited to:

  1.  each parent’s income
  2.  how much time each parent has with the child
  3.  the child’s financial needs, including medical and educational needs
  4.  the number of children that the parents share
  5.  a parent’s obligation to elderly or disabled family members or other children

The court will then apply the state’s child support guidelines and issue a child support order. When a child is involved in any legal matter in the State of Tennessee, the child’s best interests are the court’s highest priority.

Obviously, with more children, a parent’s expenses are higher. Child support is usually a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income, and more children increase the percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income that is subject to child support.

What is a Cost of Living Adjustment?

A child support payment amount is usually a specific percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income. That percentage is not usually adjusted without the court’s approval, but if there is a COLA clause in your child support agreement, the percentage can change automatically.

“COLA” is short for “cost of living adjustment.” A COLA clause is part of many child support agreements. If the cost of living rises over time so that the original child support payment amount is insufficient, a COLA clause increases the payments to cover the new cost of living.

If you expect to be involved in a child support dispute, ask your Kingston child support attorney if you should have a COLA clause included in your child support agreement, whether you and your ex reach the agreement voluntarily or the court imposes a child support order.

How Do Cost of Living Adjustments Work?

Divorcing parents in Tennessee should not confuse the “cost of living,” as determined by the federal Consumer Price Index (CPI), with the changes in a child’s life that may require higher child support payment amounts to meet the child’s needs.

For example, if a child suddenly develops a serious long-term medical condition, treatment and care for that condition may require a higher monthly child support payment – and a modification of the child support agreement – but that is not the same thing as a cost of living adjustment.

In a child support order, a COLA clause means the payments increase automatically at a rate equal to the increase in the cost of living (as determined by the CPI). A COLA clause removes any need to ask the court to modify its child support order because of cost of living increases.

How Are Child Support Orders Modified?

Whether or not the cost of living goes up, everyone’s life changes over time, and a child support order may become outdated or impractical. That’s why modifications of child support orders are not unusual. An order for child support may be modified for reasons including but not limited to:

  1.  a parent’s change of employment
  2.  a child’s or parent’s serious illness or injury
  3.  a parent’s conviction for a crime penalized with a jail or prison sentence
  4.  becoming the parent of another child with a different partner
  5.  a change in a child’s childcare, educational, or medical needs

To modify a child support order, promptly schedule a consultation to discuss your case with a Kingston child support lawyer. If your child support order can be modified, your lawyer will file your request with the court.

What Else Should Divorced Parents Know?

If your ex is seeking to modify the current child support order, and you are against the proposed modification, you will also need the services and insights that a Kingston child support attorney can provide.

To modify a child support order in Tennessee, you and your child support attorney not only must prove that significant life changes have transpired, but you and your attorney must also provide the court with persuasive evidence that the modification is in the best interests of the child.

There’s no need to make an extensive search for the right divorce or child support attorney. If you are divorcing, or if you’re involved in a child support dispute after your divorce, take your case to attorney Tyler Davis and the family law team at Davis Law Firm.

Let Davis Law Firm Represent You

Tyler Davis is an award-winning family law attorney who resolves the most difficult divorce and post-divorce disputes. He will make sure that if you receive child support payments, you’ll get what you need, and if you make those payments, you’ll pay no more than your fair share.

Attorney Tyler Davis leads a team of family law professionals that has built a reputation for legal excellence and outstanding client service. We know how to bring your case to its best possible resolution.

If you divorce in Tennessee or become involved in a child support dispute, learn more by calling the Davis Legal Team – at 865-830-6286 to schedule a free, in-depth, no-obligation evaluation of your case. We will put the law to work for you.