How to Modify Child Support in Tennessee

Often I get asked if or how can child support changed? The legal answer is by a “significant variance” between the existing support order and the amount being requested. Tennessee law has defined a significant variance by a change of 15% or more.  

Some of the circumstances that may lead to a significant variance could include:

  •        An increase or decrease in a parent’s income (including salaries, bonuses)
  •        A change in the parenting time or visitation schedule
  •        A change in the number of children a parent is legally responsible for
  •        Remarriage by one of the spouses could result in a significant variance.
  •        Change in health care costs for  the child
  •        Changes in “fringe benefits” from work relative to personal living expenses

What are the steps to change or modify child support in Tennessee? To start, you need to verify income. Most parenting plans today have a provision where each parent is to share their income information from the previous year, usually by disclosing the prior year’s W-2 or 1099 documents. You’re looking to find out if there has been at least a 15% change in “gross income” not net income. In addition to the gross income, look at the cost for health and dental insurance premiums on the parent responsible for paying. If the other parent is cooperating with this, probably best to seek advice from a lawyer.

Study the child support guidelines in Tennessee. Remember details matter.

Run the numbers on the Tennessee Child Support Worksheet. Make sure it’s at least a 15% variance.

You will need to file a Petition in the appropriate court seeking Modification of Child Support.

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There are also defenses to all this if you’re the one in which your spouse is trying to make you pay more. That will be saved for another article.

This is just a quick overview on where to start. If this is something you are considering, it is best to contact a family law attorney in your area and discuss. Cartwright Law, LLC handles child custody matters and is located in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and practices in the surrounding counties. For this topic or other family law issues, please call 615.785.2909.