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Child Support Guidelines Revised Since 2005

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader

Divorced parents could soon see changes to their child support orders.

New guidance released Monday by the Tennessee Department of Human Services include: More provisions for incarcerated, noncustodial parents; $100 minimum child support payments; and allowing insurance paid by a stepparent to be calculated into the child support worksheet.

Local Attorney Henry Fincher said there has not been any changes to the guidelines in nearly 20 years, and the new changes being implemented are minor.

“There are a lot of small tweaks in the new guidelines that make it clear where they go on the child support worksheet,” Fincher said. “A parent needs to know what he or she owes for this kid, and the other parent needs to know what they should receive.”

Other changes include establishing a self-support reserve for noncustodial parents of at least $1,150, and using a person’s criminal record to determine a parent’s income for child support calculations if nothing else can be used.

“The guidelines came about years ago because people would not pay for their children,” Fincher said. “So the federal government put down mandates that requires certain standards for the payment of child support.”

Fincher said it’s up to the parents to bring changes in each other’s income to the court’s attention. He said modifications are not made until someone files a petition.

While the new rules are clearer, Fincher said he wishes stricter guidelines could be enforced for non custodial parents who refuse to pay child support.

“There will be more questions, there will be new issues that rise up,” Fincher said. “The good thing about good lawyers is they can find good questions. Good judges give us the answers and sometimes the answers differ from one another. The guidelines answer some of those, and that’s the best thing that comes out of these new rules that we have.”


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