As any parent in Tennessee can attest, it can be very costly to raise a child. For some parents, this is a well planned out part of life, with much put into savings before ever having a child. However, such planning is not always possible, as a family can start unexpectedly. Additionally, some parents cannot parent as a unit due to divorce or separation. In these matters, it is especially important that measures are taken to ensure the financial needs of the child are met. This is where a child support order is paramount.
Can child support fluctuate?
Having a set amount paid weekly or monthly can help a custodial parent address the costs associated with raising a child. However, this amount can alter due to the changing needs of the child. It should be noted that child support may change due to the cost of living in the area going up or down. Moreover, child support may need to change because the non-custodial parent can no longer meet these financial obligations due to job loss or illness.
Modifying child support
In most cases, child support can only be adjusted in court; however, there is a situation where it can be modified without judge approval. If an order includes a Cost of Living Adjustment or COLA clause, then child support can either increase or decrease each year in accordance with the current cost of living where the child resides.
Child support modification unrelated to a COLA clause must be filed with the court. Regardless if the other parent agrees to the modification, the judge must approve these changes. If changes do occur, an entirely new order will be made.
Substantial change in circumstances
Modification of child support may be sought to increase the amount to better meet the needs of the child. This may also occur because the non-custodial parent has experienced a substantial pay increase. The custodial parent may seek modification to obtain the appropriate percentage of the new income.
On the contrary, the non-custodial parent may seek modification because they can no longer meet the financial obligation. He or she might have experienced a decrease in income, a lost job, a serious injury or illness or other life events that hinder the their ability to meet this obligation. Thus, a modification could be sought to avoid additional financial hardships and penalties associated with delinquent child support.
No matter the reason for modification, parents should understand their rights and options when it comes to child support orders. Whether one is establishing an order or wanting to modify a current order, it is vital to explore this process and ascertain what steps to take to ensure your rights are protected and the best interests of the child are met.