Child Support

Child support is money paid by one parent to the other parent in order to meet the needs of the child/ren, Although it is a legal duty resting on both parents, It is most often paid to the primary residential parent (designated in the parenting plan) by the other parent. Child support obligations terminate when a child “ages out”, or in other words, reaches the age of 18. If the parties cannot agree upon the amount of child support, the Court will base its determination based upon a very rigid and detailed set of rules written by the Tennessee Department of Human Services called the Child Support Guidelines.


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Child Support Guidelines

The Child Support Guidelines are applicable to all types of litigation and Court proceedings involving the support of minor children, such as divorce, custody, legal separation, and paternity cases. The Child Support Guidelines are based upon the income shares model. This model aims to achieve an amount of support for the children equal to the amount of support they would receive if the parents were living together. The Child Support Guidelines calculate the amount of support by weighing several factors:


  • Income of each parent
  • Needs of the children
  • Who pays for healthcare
  • Who pays for childcare
  • Who pays for educational expenses
  • Time spent with the children according to the parenting plan
  • Other children that a parent is supporting











The Child Support Guidelines use a very broad and all-inclusive definition of income. Income includes wages, bonuses, overtime, dividends, pension, interest, Social Security benefits, workers compensation benefits, personal injury judgments, gifts, prizes, and almost any other type of income. If a parent is willfully or voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, then the Child Support Guidelines will charge the parent with a certain amount of income anyway. This is called “imputing” income. The Court will impute an amount of income based upon the parent’s previous earnings. If there is no reliable evidence of previous earnings, the Court will impute income at a specific amount set forth in the Child Support Guidelines.


Modification of Child Support

Once the Court enters a child support order, the child support obligation may be modified in only a few narrow circumstances. These circumstances include:

  • 15% or greater change in the nonresidential parent’s gross income
  • Change in the number of children for whom the nonresidential parent is responsible and is providing support
  • Child who is being supported becomes disabled
  • Parents enter into an agreed order to modify ,according to the Child Support Guidelines, and submit complete worksheets

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