Child Support Lawyer in Chattanooga
If you are considering filing for divorce or are already a party to a divorce and there are minor children involved, child support is likely a significant concern to you. Though your first priority is the welfare of your children, you also want to be certain that the support order is fair to all parties and properly considers the income and needs of both parents. If your divorce is final, but your situation has changed dramatically, you may need to request a change in the court’s decree to ensure that the payments remain equitable.
Attorney Angela C. Larkins, in Chattanooga, represents individuals in child support disputes across the state of Tennessee. She works with individuals before and after divorce is final, helping ensure that child support orders are in compliance with Tennessee guidelines. Contact her office to schedule an initial consultation.
Child Support Before Your Divorce is Final
In Tennessee, your initial child support order may be established through mediation or by court decree. Regardless of whether the support order is final, pendente lite (pending in court) or established through mediation, child support is determined the same way. Each party will complete a financial worksheet that identifies the gross income of each party. Difficulties can arise if either parent has income that is easy to misrepresent, is seasonal or is uncertain, such as commission-based income. In such situations, the court may impute income based on earning capacity.
Once income has been determined, the Tennessee child support guidelines are applied to calculate payments. The child support payments may then be adjusted, based on other factors, such as:
- Whether there are other children or other support orders in effect
- The allocation of parenting time. Tennessee’s guidelines assume a primary parent and an alternate parent. The alternate parent’s support obligation may be adjusted up or down, based on the number of days spent with the child
- Responsibility for day care, health care or medical insurance expenses
Child Support Modifications or Enforcement
If your divorce is final, but your circumstances have changed, attorney Larkins will help you petition the court for a modification of your existing support order. Situations where the court will consider a modification of a child support decree include
- A substantial increase or decrease in income
- Financial responsibility for additional children
- A significant increase or decrease in expenses (for example, where a child develops a medical condition or no longer needs medical treatment)
The Tennessee laws governing child support changed in 2006. Under the old law, child support was calculated by applying a flat rate to the income of the non-custodial parent. Under the guidelines now used, you may be entitled to a change in the support order. Under the standard currently applied, you must show a 15% variance from the existing order to merit a change.
Attorney Larkins will help you complete the worksheet to determine whether a change is appropriate. If so, she will file the appropriate petition with the court to secure the modification.
Child Support Enforcement Actions
In Tennessee, a citation for contempt for failure to pay child support can lead to the revocation of your driver’s license, which can mean the loss of visitation. If your ex-spouse has stopped paying child support, or if you are unable to meet your child support obligations, attorney Larkins can protect your interests. If you are the custodial parent, she will help you pursue an order for contempt for failure to pay child support. If you are the non-custodial parent, she can help you establish a defense, negotiate a payment plan, or obtain the necessary time to pay any arrearages.
For experienced and efficient legal counsel in the determination, modification or enforcement of child support orders, call or contact attorney Angela C. Larkins. Her office is open Monday through Thursday, from 8 am until 5 pm and Friday 8 am to 12 pm. Evening, weekend and in-home consultations are available by appointment. Attorney Larkins offers reasonable rates, and Visa and MasterCard are accepted.