Child support agreements are not cast in stone. In an increasingly unpredictable era, circumstances can create the need for change. Either the alternative residential parent (ARP) or the primary residential parent (PRP) can seek to modify the terms of the agreement.
However, not all changes in circumstances can warrant a modification in Tennessee. Child support modification laws list situations that can necessitate legal changes. However, specific exceptions might apply. Family law attorneys in Kingston can assist you in navigating through the complexities.
What Kind of Change is Significant Enough for Modifications?
Tennessee only modifies child support orders if the changes in circumstances are significant enough. Anything less than 15% change might not be enough for the judge to allow modifications.
Changes can come in the form of:
- One parent has another child
- Childcare costs go up
- Healthcare expenses change
- The child moves out
- Someone’s income increases or decreases significantly
Before filing for a child support modification, you might want to first know if the changes are significant enough. The knowledgeable Kingston court modification lawyers can evaluate your situation and advise you on whether to file or not.
Are There Exceptions to the 15% Variance?
Low-income parents might not be subjected to Tennessee’s 15% variance rule. These are parents that:
- Have an Adjusted Gross Income below the federal poverty level
- Are involuntarily or unwilfully unemployed or underemployed at the full capacity of their experience and education
Parents that meet the legal definition of “low-income” could work with a 7.5% variance, instead of the usual 15%. Note that some parenting plans require co-p arents to share their financial information every year. A review of their income can determine the variance test to use.
When are the Variances Disregarded?
If a minor has a health issue that requires more support, the variances might not matter. The court does not hesitate to grant the modification in such cases. On the flip side, the judge might deny a modification to parents who are behind on payments.
Especially if the arrears are intentional, it could be challenging to convince the court to agree to a modification. So, even if you lose a job, it is advisable to continue paying child support as you pursue the modification.
Where Should a Tennessee Parent File for Modification?
Many parents get confused over where to file for a child support modification, especially when one moves out of Tennessee. One might wonder whether to file in Kingston or in the new state of either parent’s residence. The court that gave the initial order is the one that can do modifications in most cases.
This might change if you, the child, and your ex move out of Tennessee. But as long as at least one of you resides in the state, Tennessee could maintain jurisdiction. A Kingston attorney can guide you further on where to file the modifications if you have these unique circumstances.
What Happens if the Initial Order Was Issued in a Different State?
It can get even more technical if you currently live in Tennessee, divorced in a different state, and your ex moved to a whole other state. It might be impossible to file for a modification in Tennessee if your co-parent has never stepped foot in the state.
The party seeking modification might have to file in the state of the other party’s residence. Generally, the issue of jurisdiction can be complex and need the guidance of a legal expert. You don’t have to figure anything out when you can ask for help.
Does Remarriage Affect an Existing Child Support Order in Tennessee?
While a new spouse has no obligation to support one’s child from previous relationships, the new marital arrangement can impact child support. New spouses that contribute to the mortgage payments, groceries, utilities, rent, or household expenses might leave you with more disposable income.
If the newly available income is 15% or more, a judge might consider it enough reason to modify the initial child support arrangements. Similarly, marriage can come with new responsibilities like a new child through birth or adoption. Speak to a court child support attorney in Kingston to discuss the possibilities.
Is Modification Automatically Granted if Circumstances Are Right?
The circumstances might have met the modification threshold, but the judge denies it. They usually look at what the child’s life will be like after the changes. If they are likely to experience ‘hardship,’ the court might refuse to approve it.
Applicants need to know that a modification application can go either way. It can be granted or denied depending on the circumstances. Make sure that you consult with a knowledgeable Kingston court modification lawyer to learn about the possibilities of your case.
What is the Procedure for Modifying a Child Support Order?
The process begins when you file a formal request to modify the initial order. Like most other post-divorce issues, child support modification can be complicated because of the massive documentation and paperwork involved.
Some of the things you might need to attach:
- Proof of disability
- Copies of birth certificates of all the children you are legally responsible for
- Proof of health insurance costs for the child(ren)
- Copies of recent income tax returns and paycheck stubs
- Copies of your other child support orders
- Expense and income information
Note that the requirements for your case might differ from any other. So, you might need guidance on the correct documentation to file. Experienced court modification lawyers in Kingston can ensure that you don’t forget anything.
Family-Minded Attorneys Protecting You and Your Family in Tennessee
Dealing with changing financial circumstances can be hard enough. The journey to seeking modifications can add unnecessary strain on you. The journey might not be as easy, but with legal aid from the experts in Kingston, you can get the best possible outcome.
It would be wise to work with a family law firm that can make your problems their number one priority. At Davis Law Firm, we have a top-quality team that can assist you in securing the most favorable results for you and your family. Visit or call our offices in Crossville and Kingston to talk about your legal dilemmas.