Child Support Attorneys in Nashville, Tennessee
Protecting children’s rights is the number one priority for most parents. Protecting children becomes even more important when going through a divorce or separation. The attorneys at Brazil Clark, PLLC work tirelessly to protect children’s rights in Nashville, Tennessee, and throughout Rutherford County. We strive to educate the public about how child support works so that children get the protection they need. Reach out today for guidance.
Understanding Child Support in Tennessee
Child support refers to the monetary payments the non-custodial parent makes to the custodial parent to cover their minor children’s needs. Please note that child support and spousal support (alimony) are two separate issues. Thus, alimony is not included in child support payments.
The court awards child support payments to the custodial parent since they may be unable to hold a full-time job given their parental responsibilities. As a result, the non-custodial parent is obliged to support minor children financially.
There are two main ways in which child support is awarded.
First, the parents agree on an amount to be paid weekly or monthly. The amount is included in the child custody agreement and ratified by the court. The court can override the agreement if the amount is insufficient. However, the non-custodial parent has the right to appeal the court’s decisions.
Second, the court determines the amount to be paid. This decision is based on a number of factors. The non-custodial parent has the right to appeal the court’s decision. In the meantime, the non-custodial parent is obliged to pay the set amount.
Please remember that getting a formal child support agreement in place is crucial. Slightly over half (52.7%) of custodial mothers have formal child support agreements. That figure drops to 39.6% for custodial fathers.
Factors Considered in Determining Child Support
The court considers the following factors when setting child support payments in Tennessee:
Employment. The non-custodial parent’s employment plays a key role in determining child support payments. Unemployed non-custodial parents are still obligated to pay child support. However, the court may grant a temporary halt until the non-custodial parent finds suitable employment.
Income. The non-custodial parents’ income plays a key role. Child support payments are linked to the non-custodial parent’s income. Thus, the higher the income, the higher the child support payment. Typical child support payments hover around 20% to 30% of total income. However, children with special needs may require a higher child support amount.
The custodial parent’s income. The custodial parent’s income also factors into child support determination. If the custodial parent earns income through work or other sources, the non-custodial parent’s contribution may be lower. However, if the custodial parent is unable to work, the child support payments would need to cover all basic needs.
Number of children. In short, the more children, the more the payment.
Child custody. Custody plays a crucial role. Parents with equally shared custody can expect to split child support unless the custodial parent is unable to work. When sole custody is awarded, the non-custodial parent must respond for the majority of child support.
The children’s needs. Children’s needs can play a significant role in determining child support. For example, disabled and special needs children demand a higher child support payment due to the additional care required.
Modifying an Existing Child Support Arrangement
It is possible to modify an existing child support arrangement. However, modifications must be done through the court. The parties cannot modify an agreement with the court’s approval. Therefore, one or both parents must petition the court for a modification.
A good rule of thumb is to consult with an experienced family law attorney before petitioning for a modification. Both parties must be well-informed before agreeing to modifications.
Please bear in mind that the custodial parent may petition for an increase in payments at any time and without consent from the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may petition for a reduction in child support payments when the custodial parent’s income has changed or if the non-custodial parent cannot meet their financial obligations for a valid reason.
Termination of Child Support
Child support ends in Tennessee when the child turns 18 or graduates high school. Here is a look at possible scenarios:
The child turns 18. However, child support may continue if the child pursues higher education.
The child turns 18 and is no longer in school.
The child turns 18 and fails or leaves school.
The child emancipates after turning 18.
Please note that if the child is disabled, child support may continue well beyond 18. The court determines this decision based on the child’s individual needs.
Child Support Attorney in Nashville, Tennessee
Serving Nashville, Tennessee, and Rutherford County, Brazil Clark, PLLC goes the extra mile to protect your family. Reach out today for guidance. Speak with professional child support attorneys who can answer your questions, advocate for you, and fight for your rights.