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When can parents modify a child support order?

Parents in Tennessee are required to provide for the financial needs of their children until they are at least 18 years old. These financial needs can be costly as well. Every child needs food, shelter and clothing as the basics, but they have other needs as well. Young children may require child care and parents may need to pay for the children's health insurance and other medical costs. Children also are involved in various activities that have fees and may require certain equipment.

When parents divorce or separate, it is important that each parent is still contributing to these financial needs, but it can be more difficult when the parents are no longer together. That is why generally there will be a child support order to ensure both parents are continuing to contribute.

Child support may be ordered when the children are young though and can be in place for years. Another thing that parents know is that life changes over time. A child support order that was determined years earlier may no longer be feasible.

So, parents can modify a child support order if there has been a change in the circumstances. This could be one parent having an additional child not included in the original order; a significant change in income of either parent which would result in a 15 percent change in the child support order; a child is emancipated; a child becomes disabled or other reasons that demonstrate a significant change.

There are many parents in Tennessee who pay child support. At some point in time circumstances may change and an order may need to be modified. This can be done if the change is significant. These can be fact specific determinations though and it is important to know when the law allows for a modification. Experienced attorneys understand when a modification is appropriate and may be a useful resource.

Source: Tennessee Department of Human Services, "Modification of Child Support," accessed on Aug. 7, 2017

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