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Myths and Facts About Child Support in Tennessee

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Filling out child support forms and getting mail related to child support can feel like dealing with the IRS, except that the geyser of official correspondence packed with fine print is connected in some way to a personal enemy of yours, instead of just to a faceless bureaucracy.  Child support disputes are fuel for some of the most bitter legal battles between former spouses or former romantic partners who have children together.  When the child support checks that arrive in the mail are for a fraction of the amount the court promised you, it is easy to want to cry out for revenge.  Likewise, when Uncle Sam garnishes your wages to cover your child support obligations, you might be tempted to quit your job and go into a cash only business, like selling bottles of homemade hot sauce out of the trunk of your car.  A better strategy, though, is to consult a Tennessee child support lawyer to clear up some misconceptions about child support in Tennessee.

MYTH: Both Parents Are Required to Pay Equal Amounts Toward the Support of the Children 

FACT: The formula is more complicated than that; how much financial responsibility you bear for the children depends on each parent’s income and on how many days per year the children spend with each parent.  In determining child support, everything is prorated; even though there are apps and online calculators to help you with the calculations, it is a good idea to consult a lawyer before you are sure of how much your child support obligations are.

MYTH: No Matter How Rich Your Ex Is, You Cannot Get More Than $5,000 Per Month in Child Support 

FACT: Tennessee law does specify child support caps for parents whose monthly income exceeds $10,000, namely $2,100 for one child and $5,000 for five or more children.  Part of the reasoning behind this rule is that child support is meant to cover children’s basic expenses, including public school education.  Many children from wealthy families attend private schools, though, and their expenses are higher.  While the law does not consider private school education an inalienable legal right of children, judges sometimes make exceptions to the child support caps for high-asset families.

MYTH: Only Your Income from Your Job Figures into Your Child Support Obligations 

FACT: The law considers almost all income in determining your child support obligations.  Income from investments, inherited assets, monetary prizes, and lottery winnings, are all fair game.

MYTH: If Your Ex Marries Someone Rich, You No Longer Have to Pay Child Support 

FACT: Stepparents’ incomes and net worth have no bearing on child support obligations.  Even if your children spend six nights a week in a luxurious mansion with your ex and their new stepparent, your child support obligations remain the same, unless you request a modification from the court.

Let Us Help You Today

The Tennessee rules on child support appear to be set in stone, but parents have more leeway than they might expect.  Contact Knoxville child support attorney Patrick L. Looper for answers to any questions you may have about Tennessee family law.

Resource:

tn.gov/humanservices/for-families/child-support-services/child-support-guidelines-downloads.html

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