Whether a couple was once married and now divorced, or two unmarried people have a child together, both parents are responsible for the physical, emotional and financial well-being of their child. When a married couple divorces and one parent is given primary physical custody of the child and the other parent gets co-parenting time with the child, the court orders child support payments as a part of the divorce judgment. In situations where the two parents were never married to one another, the court will order child support as a part of the process of the father establishing paternity of the child.
How is child support calculated in Tennessee?
Each state sets the guidelines for how child support is calculated. There are general guidelines under the Child Support Enforcement Act, but in the state of Tennessee, the Department of Human Services administers the state child support rules and enforcement for the program.
Tennessee uses an “Income Shares” model to calculate child support payments by comparing a host of factors including how many days the child spends with each parent, the parents’ income, child care and medical insurance costs among other factors.
Some of the factors that the court uses to determine child support include:
- How many children each parent is legally responsible for supporting (stepchildren do not count)
- The child’s educational needs
- The child’s health needs
- The child’s current standard of living
The TN Department of Human Resources website has downloadable forms and an automated calculator, and spreadsheets that parents can use to estimate the amount of child support they will be obligated to pay, and what they might receive from the non-custodial parent.
Once the court orders child support payments, the obligation will continue until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school with his/her class, whichever occurs latest.
Child support enforcement
If the non-custodial parent falls behind in their child support payments, or stops making payments all together, the court can compel the nonpaying parent to pay by using several methods available to them including:
- Garnishing wages or ordering a “wage assignment” directly from the employer
- Seizing federal tax refunds
- Revoking driving privileges and taking either a professional or business license
- Reporting to credit collections agencies and to the State Department to revoke passports
- Property liens
Child support guidelines can be a bit complicated. If you would like to discuss your questions about how child support is calculated and any other question about child custody or divorce, contact an experienced Memphis family law attorney to schedule a consultation. Call LaFevor & Slaughter today at 865-272-4454.