According to the laws in Tennessee both parents are required to provide support to their children, even if the parents are no longer together, or have never been married. The Department of Human Services oversees the child support programs. They are a full service operation providing assistance not only for child support orders, but in paternity issues, enforcement issues, and modification of orders.
How to Apply for Child Support in Tennessee
In order to apply for child support in Tennessee you must already have filed for divorce and been awarded the final judgment. Only after the divorce is final and custody/visitation issues have been decided and settled can you apply for child support. For ease of use if you go to the official child support website for Tennessee, the parent who has full time care is referred to as the Primary Residential Parent (PRP) and the parent who only has the children on a limited basis is referred to as the Alternative Residential Parent (ARP). It is generally the ARP that pays the child support into the DHS, who then distributes the funds to the PRP via direct deposit or deposit onto a Visa debit card.
Once you have settled custody and visitation issues then you can apply for child support. There are worksheets available via the DHS website that will assist you in determining your gross income per month as well as assets that the courts need to take into consideration when determine the monthly child support amounts. This worksheet is attached to the parenting plan form. The forms can be accessed here: http://www.memphisdivorce.com/children/child-support-resources/
How Much Child Support is Possible in Tennessee
The basic child support obligation is derived using a very complicated mathematical formula and is based upon the information that they obtain via tax records and the information that you provide on the child support worksheet. If the court suspects that you are hiding income, then they will assign you an income that is in keeping with your income from the previous year. Any money received throughout the year is considered income. Things like tips, commissions, bonuses, tax returns, gambling winnings, lottery money, investments, disability or retirement benefits, are all considered income and must be declared. Additionally, the court will consider the age of the child, how many children are being supported, and what the situation of the child is as to standards of living. If you are unsure what should be reported, there is a long list for you to read on the website: http://www.memphisdivorce.com/children/child-support/
Medical and dental insurances usually fall to the noncustodial parent (ARP) to pay. This can include co-pays and deductibles. Special expenses, such as summer camp, social, or athletic activities are not mandated by the court. Wage assignment, garnishment of wages, is the usual way that the funds are moved from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent, with the DHS acting as the middleman in the transaction.