Determining child custody and calculating the amount of child support that a parent will pay to the other parent can be contentious. Whether the couple was married and is divorcing, or if they are a couple who was never married and they are ending their relationship, the child need financial support from both parents. The parent who pays child support in Tennessee may have many questions about the arrangement. Here are some examples of the types of questions new clients tend to ask:
Q: I am not married to my child’s father. How do I get child support in Tennessee?
A: You can apply for child support by completing an application on the Tennessee Department of Human Services’ website printing it off and mailing it to your local child support office. Or, you can retain a qualified Nashville family law attorney to file an action to establish parentage and child support.
Q: How long will I have to pay child support?
A: Both parents are responsible for the financial support of their child until they reach age 18 if the child is in high school, and your support continues until the child graduates from high school, or the class of which the child is a member graduates when the child turns 18, whichever occurs last. There could be exceptions to this rule, however, so it is best to contact your attorney to see if they apply.
Q: As an alternate residential parent, do I have to pay child support if my ex earns more money than I do?
A: In Tennessee, both parents are expected to contribute to the financial support of their child. The Basic Child Support Obligation (BSCO) works out to be a percentage of each parent’s net income. It is calculated based on the adjusted gross income of both parents with credits where applicable for child support orders already in place. The custody arrangement determines which parent pays child support. Typically, but not always, it is the primary residential parent who will receive child support from the alternate residential parent.
Q: I am owed thousands in back child support payments. How can I get the child support order enforced?
A: The state of Tennessee has several enforcement tools which can be used to collect past due support which are administrative in the beginning stages and do not require the involvement of the court. However, if payments are still not being made, the court may get involved. An experienced Nashville family law attorney from Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC can help enforce your child support order.
Q: Which parent is responsible to pay college expenses for our child after the divorce?
A: Tennessee law does not require that parents pay for their child’s college education. However, if the parents want to pay or contribute to their child’s college expenses, they can include language describing their agreement in their divorce settlement agreement. In cases where both parents earn a high income, or who have significant financial resources, the court may order the parents to create a trust fund to cover college expenses for the child.
Q: My child’s other parent will not allow me to see my child because I have fallen behind on child support payments. What can I do?
A: Child support and child custody are two separate issues from a legal perspective. If there is a child custody order which includes a visitation schedule for the you as the alternate residential parent, and the primary residential parent is denying you access to your child, they may be breaking the law. However, if you want to make a compelling case to the judge for your visitation rights, you may need to find a way to get current on your child support obligation, or have a clearly defined plan for how you plan to make up the arrears.
If you have tough questions about child support in Tennessee, you need the strong advocacy of a skilled Nashville family law attorney from Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC. You are welcome to call 615-391-4200 or contact us today to reserve an in-person or video consultation.
Karla C. Miller has devoted her entire career to the practice of family law in Tennessee. She attended Auburn University and Nashville School of Law, and upon graduation in 1996, she opened her own law firm and has been assisting families throughout Tennessee since then. Learn more about Karla C. Miller here.