Modifying Child Support in Tennessee

Modifying child support in Tennessee requires there to be a “significant variance,” defined as a 15% change, between the current child support payment and the newly calculated amount. This calculation must be done using the Child Support Worksheet. Determining the variables for the calculation is not always straightforward, which can make modification rather difficult. If, however, you are seeking a modification in order to provide for your child/children’s healthcare needs, you shouldn’t have much of a problem.  

Typically, the process begins by collecting financial information on the other parent, making an accurate list of the days the child/children spend with the other parent throughout the year, health care costs, childcare costs and other costs paid by each parent. Next, redo the Child Support Worksheet with all the new information, and then file a petition requesting a modification on the basis of the “significant variance” as shown in the new calculation. Some parents do not want to cooperate with the process and will refuse to provide financial information. Some parenting plans contain provisions for the exchange of financial information, but if yours does not, and the other parent refuses to provide the information, you can still file a petition. You have to make as accurate a guess as you can about the other parent’s financial information for the initial filing and request, in your petition, the court to compel the production of the other parent’s financial records.

For the purpose of modifying child support in Tennessee, a “significant Variance” According to the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines (Rule 1240-2-4-.5) is as follows:  

Significant Variance Required for Modification of Order.

(a)  Unless a significant variance exists, as defined in this section, a child support order is not eligible for modification; provided, however, the necessity of providing for the child’s health care needs shall be a basis for modification regardless of whether a modification in the amount of child support is warranted by other criteria.

(b)  For all orders that were established or modified before January 18, 2005, under the flat percentage guidelines, and are being modified under the income shares provisions for the first time, a significant variance is defined as:

  1. At least a fifteen percent (15%) change in the gross income of the ARP; and/or
  2. A change in the number of children for whom the ARP is legally responsible and actually supporting; and/or
  3. A child supported by this order becoming disabled; and/or
  4. The parties voluntarily entering into an agreed order to modify support in compliance with these Rules, and submitting completed worksheets with the agreed order; and
  5. At least a fifteen percent (15%) change between the amount of the current support order and the proposed amount of the obligor parent’s pro rata share of the BCSO if the current support is one hundred dollars ($100) or greater per month and at least fifteen dollars ($15) if the current support is less than one hundred dollars ($100) per month; or
  6. At least a seven and one-half percent (7.5% or 0.075) change between the amount of the current support order and the amount of the obligor parent’s pro rata share of the BCSO if the tribunal determines that the Adjusted Gross Income of the parent seeking modification qualifies that parent as a low-income provider.

Modifying child support in Tennessee can be challenging. There are other factors that can/must be considered when seeking a modification (split parenting, arrears, etc.). If you are interested in modifying your child support obligation in Tennessee, contact the Law Office of Lords and Cate to discuss any legal concerns and questions you have. We can help protect your legal rights through this process.