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How is child support determined in Tennessee?

Tennessee law is quite clear: Parents have a duty to financially support their child. It does not matter whether they are married, cohabitating, divorced or separated. Because of this, when a divorce involves a child, it will almost certainly result in a child support order.

How is child support determined in Tennessee? Here is a basic overview.

Income and parenting days

Child support is not done haphazardly. The state assumes both parents should provide financial support to a child, and in a way that is proportional to their income. To determine the actual dollar figure, parents have to fill out a Child Support Worksheet that will determine how much one parent may have to pay.

This basic child support obligation amount is based, in large part, on two key factors: Income and parenting days.

Other things can influence the final figure, however, including:

  • Health insurance costs
  • Work-related childcare expenses
  • Certain educational costs
  • Significantly low or high income
  • Certain hardships

These other factors could result in a deviation, either up or down, from what would normally be awarded under the guidelines.

Can child support be modified?

Tennessee law does allow a parent to request a modification to a child support order. However, this can only be done under circumstances where there is a “significant variance.” In order for the courts to approve a new child support amount, you would have to prove the new situation meets the definition of a “significant variance.” This is almost always related to a big change in income.

A modification request has the potential to be a challenging topic. It is a situation you will need to navigate carefully, juggling emotional and family dynamics, as well as the subsequent legal process. Having strong support – and someone to advocate on your behalf – can make a big difference.