Child Support Laws in Tennessee

By Tom Streissguth

The state of Tennessee provides for child support payments in cases where couples with minor children are divorcing. State law and guidelines set the amount of support, as well as the enforcement mechanism for collecting past-due support payments, health insurance payments, and reimbursement of uncovered medical expenses.

The state of Tennessee provides for child support payments in cases where couples with minor children are divorcing. State law and guidelines set the amount of support, as well as the enforcement mechanism for collecting past-due support payments, health insurance payments, and reimbursement of uncovered medical expenses.

State Agencies

The Tennessee Department of Human Services administers the state's child support program. The Child Support Receipting Unit in Nashville processes child support payments, which are set by the court and given in a final divorce decree. The custodial spouse can ask the DHS child support enforcement agency to locate missing payors, establish paternity, modify support orders or collect past-due child support with garnishment orders issued by the courts.

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Families First

Anyone enrolled in the state's public health program known as Families First must assign any child support payments to the program. The state uses the child support to reimburse the Families First benefits, then passes on any excess amount -- known as a "pass through payment" -- directly to the custodial parent. State law also requires that any parents that have enrolled in Families First send any support payments received directly from the non-custodial parent to the state. The state will review the child support amount every three years and may modify the amount if circumstances change.

Appeals

Either parent can appeal a decision or order in a child support case, or an administrative action taken by the state child-support agency. Parents can petition to modify support orders or change any adverse action by the child support agency; the latter appeal carries an appeal deadline of 15 days from the date of the order. In the case of a license revocation, the deadline is 20 days. Petitioners file appeals with the Division of Appeals and Hearings in Nashville; this agency then sets a date for a hearing on the matter, which usually takes place by telephone.

Enforcement Actions

Tennessee law allows for a variety of actions by child-support agencies in the case of past-due or unpaid child support. These include diverting federal tax refunds or other federal benefits such as Social Security payments; denying an application for a passport; an order of garnishment of wages; or seizure of assets such as money from a bank account. Those falling behind on child support in Tennessee also risk having their driver's license suspended or revoked.

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Laws Concerning Back Child Support in Indiana

References

Resources

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Federal Guidelines on the Collection of Child Support Arrears

In 1975 Congress passed the Child Support Enforcement and Paternity Establishment Program, or CSE, in response to increasing enrollment in federal welfare programs of children of separated parents. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was established by the CSE to provide assistance to state and local law enforcement and social services agencies in creating and operating their child support enforcement programs. If administrative and local enforcement efforts are insufficient in aiding the collection of child support, the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, or DPPA, provides for federal criminal prosecution of the most severely delinquent child support violators.

Kansas Laws on Non-Payment of Child Support

Kansas monitors child support by requiring parents to make their payments through the Kansas Payment Center. Language to this effect must be included in every new or modified child support order. Under both state and federal law, child support payments are made through income withholding orders, or IWOs. IWOs obligate a parent's employer to deduct child support from his wages or salary and forward it to the state. If a parent is unemployed or self-employed, however, IWOs may not work and a parent can fall behind with payments.

Alabama Collection & Distribution of Child Support

When two parents have children together but don't share a household, one parent often needs to provide financial support to the other parent. The state of Alabama assists many parents who pay or collect child support. Although some parents may choose to pay support voluntarily, a state court or child support agency cannot enforce an arrangement without a court order.

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