Do I Have to Pay Child Support if My Ex Says They Don’t Want It?
As parents, we want what is best for our child. Even after a divorce, and we’re on our own, we still want our child to thrive and flourish. For nearly half a decade, child support laws have been in place just to help with that matter. No one wants to see a child suffer because their parents separated.
Perhaps your spouse from the beginning insists that they don’t want or need child support from you, or maybe they make that decision after the order is placed. Your ex may have gotten a new job with a better-paying salary, and doesn’t need your payments anymore. Does that mean you can stop paying them? After all, so long as your child is being properly taken care of, then the payments may seem pointless.
But the answer is no – you cannot stop paying child support just because your ex doesn’t “need” or “want” the money. In Tennessee, both parents are financially responsible for caring for their children, no matter how much more one parent may make. However, there may be instances where you pay less money in support that the guidelines typically require.
How does child support work?
In Tennessee, according to the Department of Human Services’ Child Support Handbook, child support is a court order to “ensure children have their financial and health care needs met by parents and guardians who may be members of different households.” Parents can sometimes forget that the money is meant to benefit the life of their child, and not solely the life of the parent, especially if they are the one making payments. They can also forget that child support is court-ordered, so it doesn’t much matter if one spouse doesn’t want it; the payor spouse can face serious penalties if they don’t fulfill their obligation.
Child support is determined through required worksheets and documentation of basic information, as well as the gross income of each parent. Your base income is determined through not just your salary, but your bonuses, trusts, overtime pay, capital gains, and other assets.
Based on this information, and using an income share model, the Tennessee Department of Human Services calculates how much one parent should pay to the other in order to best serve the child’s growth and lifestyle.
What is downward deviation?
Under certain circumstances, the support order may be modified so long as there is sufficient evidence to show it is warranted. Often, this modification comes after a parent has experienced a significant change in circumstances, such as the loss of a job or an illness. In some instances, it could change if the custody order changes, too (though that is not guaranteed).
You may also be eligible for downward deviation. Downward deviation is “a departure from the statutory support guidelines whereby the trial judge decreases the amount of child support awarded based upon various factors.” In this case, if your ex does not want your child support payments, you may be able to file an order modification request with the help of your family law attorney. After that, depending on your modification request, the court may ask to see paperwork such as financial affidavits, custody agreements, or other documents. Once all the paperwork and evidence is gathered, the judge will consider and decide on the modification request. Whether the judge approves or denies, the decision is binding, so it is crucial you and your co-parent are in agreement.
Can I set up a trust fund instead of paying child support?
Trusts are made for the benefit of someone else (recipient) by you, the trustee. So in this sense, yes: a trust is like a little piggy bank for your child, and you could potentially use those assets to pay for child support.
But could you use a trust in lieu of child support? Maybe. Most people pay child support either through the TN.gov portal or the TouchPay app, or with automatic withdrawals from their accounts. It is possible, with the permission of the court, that you could deposit your child support payments into a trust fund instead if your ex approves, too.
As you can see, the waters of child support and orders can be murky, and they require an expert eye who takes your best interests, and the interests of your children at heart. The Maryville child support attorneys at Shepherd & Long will put you and your family’s needs first. We’ll go over every document and legal step in detail to ensure that the child support order modification request you wish to file, or the trust you wish to start, is exactly what you want it to be. We know what the judge is looking for, and we know how to best present your goals. To schedule an appointment, call 865-982-8060, or use our contact page. We’re here to help you and your family.