Child support is one of the most heavily regulated and highly litigated issues that arise in family law matters. Child support is usually addressed in any type of action which involves the care of a minor child – such as a divorce, legal separation or paternity action. The Tennessee legislature has given the courts a very specific set of Child Support Guidelines to use when setting support, and most courts are extremely reticent to deviate from them unless extraordinary circumstances exist.
The amount of support awarded to a custodial spouse is based on what is referred to as an “income shares” approach whereby the combined income of the child’s parents is considered. The determination of an individual’s support obligation is then based on a consideration of several factors including the proportion of the total income available that is earned by that parent, the amount of custodial time that the individual parent exercises, and how certain child-rearing expenses (such as medical and educational expenses) are paid.
In some cases, child support calculations can be extremely straightforward and easy to calculate. In other cases – due to one spouse’s fluctuations in income, a party’s attempt to hide income, or other factors – the appropriate level of support can be more difficult to establish.
An obligation to pay child support is extremely serious and the repercussions of failing to meet that obligation can have very profound effects. If you find that you are unable to meet your court-ordered support obligations, you should contact an attorney immediately. If a life issue such as a health crisis or layoff justifiably prevents you from meeting your obligation, it is possible that your payment can be modified (at least temporarily). However, child support cannot be modified retroactively. If you are called to task for failing to pay support – even if your failure is otherwise justifiable – you will still be held responsible for any arrearages that have accrued. Do not wait until you have fallen behind before seeking help.
If you have any questions regarding this or any other issues, please feel free to call me at the number listed above, send an email, or use the contact form.
The Mason Family Law Firm represents clients throughout Middle Tennessee, including Davidson County, Williamson County, Dickson County, Cheatham County, Rutherford County, Maury County, Wilson County, Sumner County, and the cities of Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Lebanon, Gallatin, Goodlettsville, Hendersonville, Mount Juliet, Smyrna, Spring Hill, Ashland City, Kingston Springs, and others at clients’ request.