Parents have many disagreements when they divorce or decide they no longer want to be together. The one thing they should agree on, however, is that their children should receive financial support. Still, since money is always a controversial issue, reaching a child support agreement both parents can live with is not always an easy task.
If you are considering divorce and want to know what you can anticipate regarding a child support arrangement, or if you have questions about an existing child support order, Attorney Steven C. Frazier can help. He has been assisting parents with child support issues for more than 40 years. Steven C. Frazier, Attorney At Law proudly serves clients in Kingsport, Church Hill, Johnson City, Bristol, and throughout Northeastern Tennessee.
Tennessee law holds that every parent is responsible for providing financial support for their children, regardless of their relationship with the other parent and regardless of their gender.
In most cases, one parent is the primary residential parent. Because that is the parent the children spend the most time with, there is an assumption that the parent with primary physical custody spends more money on the children than the non-custodial parent. For that reason, it is typically the non-custodial parent who pays the primary residential parent child support.
How much support one parent pays the other depends on several factors but begins with the combined parental income to determine how much support children received when the parents were together. From there, factors such as the number of children, each parent’s amount of parenting time allotted in the child custody agreement, and a child’s educational, care, and medical needs become part of the child support calculus. Parental income includes the obvious wages, tips, bonuses, and commissions, but also retirement and pension plans.
Tennessee law prohibits a parent who should pay child support from getting out of paying their fair share. A parent who chooses to be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed to reduce their income will be thwarted by the court. The court will use the parent’s “imputed” income, which is the amount they should be earning, in the child support formula.
Either parent can request a review of the existing order to see if significant changes warrant modification of the child support amount. Significant changes would include a parent’s obligation to support an additional child or the termination of that obligation if a child included in the order is now emancipated or deceased. A substantial increase or decrease in a parent’s income, such as a higher salary or job loss, could signal a change in the calculation. A loss of health insurance or a child’s new disability could also warrant modification.
Termination of child support occurs when a child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. Termination could occur earlier if the child becomes an emancipated minor, marries, or joins the military prior to turning 18. Support could continue past the age of 18 if the child lacks the capacity to support themselves and live on their own.
If a parent is behind on child support payments at the time of termination, they are nonetheless responsible for paying the arrearages in full.
An experienced family law attorney can be your advocate as the court calculates child support. Although there is a formula, so many other considerations can be factored in that could substantially change the basic calculation. Your family law attorney will know what those factors are, how to document evidence of them, and how to present them to the court for consideration.
Remember, the other parent will be looking out for their best interests. The court is looking out only for the best interests of the children. Your family law attorney is protecting both your interests and those of your children.
Attorney Steven C. Frazier has been advocating for his clients in and near Kingsport, Tennessee, for decades. He is dedicated to helping parents during the establishment of a child support arrangement and when an existing order warrants modification. If you have questions, Steven C. Frazier, Attorney At Law can help answer them. Call his office now to begin.