Child Support Attorneys Guiding You Through Difficult Disputes in Kingston
Navigating the world of child support can be tricky, especially if you are not on civil or amicable terms with your soon-to-be ex-partner. Making sure that your child receives the financial support and assistance they deserve is a key priority for any parent, and it is important that you have access to the very best advice and assistance to help you secure a reliable, solid arrangement which places the needs and welfare of your child at the center.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Tennessee requires the higher-earning parent to pay child support, and this is calculated according to a set of predetermined state guidelines. These are primarily determined by the income of the parents, how often each parent has the child or children, and the number of children who require support. Generally, the alternative resident parent (ARP) will be required to make payments to the primary resident parent (PRP).
‘Income’ for the purposes of child support may include:
- Commissions, fees, and tips
- Income from self-employment
- Overtime payments
- Severance pay
- Pension and retirement plans
- Interest, dividend, trust, and annuity income
- Net capital gains
- Social Security disability or retirement
- Workers compensation benefits
- Unemployment insurance benefits
- Personal injury awards and other civil judgments
- Gifts, prizes and lottery winnings
- Alimony from prior or subsequent spouses
All of the above factors may be taken into account by a judge when they are determining eligibility and amounts for child support.
What Is Child Support Designed To Cover?
Child support can be ordered by a judge to cover the basic expenses of your child. These may include food, clothing, housing, health insurance, medical expenses, and transportation, as well as any extraordinary education needs (e.g. extra tutoring, care or support, or fees for residential schooling), any dental expenses and any additional extra-curricular, sporting, or cultural activity expenses.
What Happens If The Parent Doesn’t Pay?
Child support is a legal obligation, and failure to pay can have severe consequences. In the event that a parent fails to pay, the payment becomes past due. At this point, Child Support Services Enforcement will be able to pursue the parent who is refusing to make the payment. Their options include:
- Placing a lien on any property owned – this is also known as a bond, or “a charge or encumbrance upon property for the satisfaction of a debt or other duty that is created by agreement of the parties or esp. by operation of law.”
- Revoking the driver’s license of the parent
- Seizing their bank accounts
- Denying or refusing them a passport
- Intercepting any federal or state income tax refunds they may be due
- Reporting any outstanding amount owed to the credit bureau, risking damage to their credit rating
What If I Can No Longer Afford To Pay?
In the event that circumstances change and one party finds themselves unable to carry on making the required payments, the parent paying can attempt to modify their child support. This is known as a child support modification order, and while it can change the payment amount, it does not relieve the party of the obligation to provide support for their child.
The parent in question will need to file a petition with the court, requesting an increase or decrease in the amount paid due to a change in jobs or alternative factor which has altered the income. There needs to be a ‘significant variance’ in the amounts before any chance will be authorized. Significant variance is defined as being:
- At least a 15% change in the ARP’s annual gross income
- A change in the number of children the ARP is legally supporting and responsible for
- A child named and supported by the order becoming disabled
- Both parents voluntarily agreeing to an order to modify support – this must be in compliance with child support guidelines – and both parents submitting completed worksheets with the newly agreed order
- At least a 15% change between the amount of the current support order and the proposed amount of the paying parent’s pro-rata share of the basic child support obligation, in the event, that the current support is $100 or greater per month and at least $15 of the current support is less than $100 per month.
Significant variance is altered somewhat in the event that the parent is a low-income provider. This is defined as being someone who:
- Isn’t willfully/voluntarily unemployed or underemployed when working at their full capacity according to their education and experience
- Has an Adjusted Gross Income at or below the federal poverty level for a single adult. In this instance, there must be at least a 7.5% change between the current order and the proposed new modified support amount.
How We Can Help
Child support can be a difficult issue, but it is one that is essential to the health, wellbeing, and financial security of your child. Here at Davis Law Firm, our family lawyers have been working with clients all across Kingston for a number of years, helping to navigate the murky waters of child support and allowing our families to receive the assistance and financial security they deserve.
Contact us today at (865) 354-3333, and receive reliable, skilled legal advice.