When can child support be decreased?

Have you been trying to balance too little for too long? Whether you're the one paying child support due to a court order, or the one receiving it as a custodial parent, you may have been facing difficult financial decisions because of an outdated child support order. You may be struggling to make ends meet and struggling to keep up your end of the bargain.

It's simple, really. Because our lives are always changing, our child support orders often need to be changed, too. Unfortunately, it's not as easy as making a phone call (nor should it be). Tennessee's Department of Human Services (DHS) sets forth specific requirements that must be met in order to even consider making a change. The good news is that both non-custodial and custodial parents have the right to ask for their child support order to be reviewed and potentially revised. 

The following is a partial list of reasons the DHS will consider conducting a review:

  • Income has gone down or up substantially. Have you lost a job, or changed jobs and now receive less income? Do you get fewer hours at your current job? Obviously, you want to give your children all that you can, but you can't do the impossible. Or, on the other hand, has either party inherited any money or had a big win in the casino or lottery? (Other sources may be considered as well.)
  • There's been a change in the status of the child (or children) covered under the order: the custodial parent may need additional support if a child has become disabled, thus requiring more services. Or, if a child has aged out of the child support order and is now independent, then the support order should no longer include that individual.
  • When either party adds a child to their immediate family, this can be cause to revise the existing support order. Note: you must be legally responsible for this added child and supporting him or her.

As families grow, jobs shift and circumstances change, your children will be affected - but with modified child support orders, they'll always have what they need, if everyone plays by the book.

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