Handling Child Support in TennesseeChild support, in general, is never easy. All those guidelines and what-if’s and legal battles are exhausting and complicated, and probably the last thing you need. Although the guidelines for child support are mostly formulaic, there are certain situations and exceptions of which you should be aware.

What are the normal child support guidelines?

Tennessee typically handles child support like most other states do. Based on the gross (pre-tax) income of both parents, the court will decide how much one parent will pay monthly to the other. The amount a parent will have to pay is contingent upon the combined income of both parents, which can put the payer under significant financial strain. Monthly child support payments can range anywhere from $100 to over $3,000.

It’s also important to know that in 2020, Tennessee updated their child support calculation guidelines to include:

  • Credits, specifically in the case of a new stepparent paying for health insurance
  • The ability for long-term incarcerated parents to request modifications on their payments
  • The ability for parents to use a previous criminal record to determine income
  • A minimum monthly amount of $100 for non-custodial parents
  • A “self-support reserve” ensuring non-custodial parents still have enough money to live while making their payments

Depending on your individual situation, these new guidelines can be either stifling, freeing, or a mix of both. Regardless, it is still important to understand the laws and rules in place if you are ordered by the court to live under them; not just to save yourself from greater hardship down the line, but also to know when and how to request modifications.

Exceptions to the rule

At the end of the day, child support is for one thing and one thing only: the children. All the guidelines in place are there to ensure your children get the proper care and support they need. But things happen; situations change, and your finances may be affected. Factors you didn’t think would make a difference throw you for a loop, or maybe your current situation is so confusing and unique the guidelines don’t seem to answer any of your questions. This is why you should consult with a qualified Maryville family law attorney when it comes to child support issues.

Under Tennessee state law, deviations from the standard child support guidelines are thoroughly outlined and explained in Section 240-02-04-.07. Not only do they include literal deviations – changes from the normal law for better or worse – but they also detail necessary exceptions to the rule and offer rebuttals for each one. There are quite a few, such as parents needing to pay more due to the needs of the child (such as to cover higher education expenses) or in the case of extreme financial hardship (e.g., if your child has special needs or extraordinary medical expenses not covered by insurance). As previously mentioned, these deviations are not all designed to save you money; they are simply different from the norm. Because of this, if you’re faced with a deviation, you could find yourself responsible for a hefty monthly payment with no clear end in sight, and it could be thousands more than you were told you’d be paying originally.

But there is hope. Rebuttals exist for a reason, and that’s why you need qualified, caring attorneys on your side to fight for them. You want to give your child the care and support they deserve, but you also need to be able to support yourself and live your life comfortably. Child support shouldn’t put you in insurmountable debt, regardless of what forced you into this situation in the first place.

If you’re drowning under potential or current child-support payments, if the deviations and exceptions hurt more than help, or if you need a deviation or exception you’ve not been awarded, we encourage you to contact a Maryville child support attorney at Shepherd & Long, P.C. You can reach us by phone at 865.982.8060 or via our contact form today. Let us help you bring your life back on track while ensuring your child receives the financial support they need and deserve.