In Tennessee, child support is determined by state laws. The general child support rules in Memphis will be the same as in the rest of the state, but child support procedures in Shelby County, where Memphis is located, may be different than in other Tennessee counties. Child support in Tennessee is calculated based on “income shares.” This means that your child support obligation is based on the assumption that both parents will contribute financially to raising your child in proportion to your incomes.
Custody, Visitation and Child Support
The Tennessee child support guidelines assume that if each parent had the same income, and each had the child in his custody half of the time, neither parent would owe the other child support. When parents do not have equal custody, the parent who has the child less time is called the “alternative residential parent.” Although the laws are quite complex, generally, the alternative residential parent’s child support obligation will be reduced for each day his child is with him. This is called a “parenting time adjustment.” For the purposes of the adjustment, one day of parenting time occurs when the child spends more than 12 hours with the alternative residential parent.
What Is Income?
The Tennessee child support guidelines will calculate your child support based on your gross income. Your gross income includes all of your income, before taxes and deductions, from any source whether earned or unearned. This means that your income includes, in addition to your wages, money that you receive from investments or rent as well as income you receive from worker’s compensation or unemployment insurance compensation.
Your child support obligation can be recalculated, or modified, if you acquire additional dependents. This situation might arise if you remarry and now support more people, or if you have more children.
Termination of Child Support
In Tennessee, you must pay your child support obligation until your child turns 18 or graduates high school with her class, whatever comes later. Your obligation also ends if your child becomes emancipated by court order, marriage or enlistment in the military. Your payments automatically end when one of these events occurs, but if you are making your payments through the Child Support Enforcement Office, you should advise the office of the event.
Modifying Child Support
You can change your child support obligation in Tennessee if there has been a “significant variance.” Typically, someone seeks a modification when one or both parents’ income has changed in a way that significantly changes the child support calculation. A significant variance exists when the new calculation changes the current child support order by 15 percent or more. If your adjusted gross income is at or below the federal poverty line, the new calculation need only be 7.5 percent different than the current child support obligation. You can also seek a modification if your child’s health care needs have changed, or the current order deviated from the Tennessee guidelines for a reason that no longer exists.