The Tennessee courts require that each parent must financially support their minor children. For parents that are no longer a couple, an order of child support typically is used to fulfill this duty. All parts of your divorce decree are intended to be permanent, including child custody, visitation, financial support, etc. We all know that changes in circumstances occur (financially and otherwise), and you are required to get a court modification to change any part of the initial decree.

Two conditions apply to the parenting plan decided on, or child custody agreements.

  • The modification must be based upon an actual, proven material change in your circumstances
  • The court must decree a modification of the custody, alimony, or child support that will still serve the best interests of your child.

Your child support amount is derived from a calculation that is based on both parents’ gross income. The court uses state-specific guidelines to arrive at this monthly dollar figure, and that it is sufficient and correct. If you want to have amounts or conditions changed, you have to be able to show and prove that fact.

This type of modification will only change when you or the other parent can show a “significant variance” to your circumstances. This could involve income records or any other documents that your family lawyer needs to use to obtain the modification you desire.

Either parent can file a petition with the court to increase or decrease the child support amount, change the custody or visitation,  due to the loss of a job, change in income, Illness, or other factors that have affected your life. Your Kingston family lawyers will go over all the details (financial and otherwise) of your request, and present the facts needed for the modification.

What is the Procedure for Making a Modification?

The path you follow to get your modification is much like you followed when you received your original decree. You and your lawyer draft a modification agreement in the form of a new parenting plan, change of support, or custody to the court for ratification and approval. It is always best if the modification is already agreed to by both parents.

If the parents cannot reach an agreement to the terms of the modifications, they can participate in mediation to help them settle. There are cases, such as abuse of the child, that put the child at risk. Here, the court may provide a temporary injunction, or special relief, without going to mediation.

One of the most difficult types of modifications usually involves one parent’s geographical relocation. These cases involve a different set of procedures and standards.

You may feel that it’s easier to come to a verbal agreement with your ex-partner, but it is not in your best interests to do so. Any verbal agreement you make is not legally enforceable through the courts, and either one or both of you may regret it later on. Only a Tennessee court can modify a valid custody order, child support, or terms of your divorce decree legally.

What is Defined as a “Significant Variance” in my Finances or Circumstance?

Some of the Tennessee guidelines for a “significant variance” are as follows:

  • At least a 15% (fifteen percent) change in the parent paying the child support, etc.
  • A change in the number of children the paying parent is responsible for
  • You child becomes disabled, or both parties voluntarily agree to an order that complies with the Tennessee child support guidelines
  • A change in either of the parent’s income, that either gets the support or pays it adhering to the state’s percentage guidelines.

This term may seem simple to show at first, but your family law attorney will explain all the terms that have to be met and proven for you to do so.  The financial records, medical records, etc. all have to be presented to the court for their final decision on the modification.

It is possible to file a petition seeking modification of child support, get the needed documents, and the court denies the request based on the particular calculation of income and determination of days.  This complexity is one of the most important detriments to the income shares model.

Is Mediation Useful and Valuable in Order for me to Get a Modification?

The simple answer is “yes”, and mediation is usually a requirement for a court modification.

As an example, mediation can be very helpful in a primary residential parent modification plan. The mediation setting is much less formal, and both parents can discuss their ideas with the help of their family attorneys. Various arguments can be put on the table that looks for sensible, viable, creative ways to solve the family’s issues. Although you may have divorced, your child’s well-being is always your main concern. Going to court prepared with a new sensible parenting plan or financial settlement is always best for you and your child and your chances of getting a modification.

What Are The Main Reasons a Judge will Grant a Modification?

Some of the most common reasons for a modification are:

  • One parent will not follow the custody terms
  • Your child’s needs have changed
  • A parents situation (financial or otherwise) has changed
  • The physical relocation of one of the parents
  • The child is in danger of any kind

A modification by the court due to a change in circumstance can be a very difficult time for all involved. Your family law attorneys in Kingston will be instrumental in getting through it. Life changes, we all are aware of that, but your child’s future is always paramount to the minds of the parents. Get the professional guidance you need to make the necessary modifications to meet your current circumstance.