Can I modify my Tennessee child support agreement?

Tennessee child support agreements can be modified, sometimes.

Child support orders are not static. They can be changed. There are a number of situations that could trigger a request for a change. The needs of the child may increase. The child may take up an expensive extracurricular activity or have additional medical or dental needs that were not accounted for in the initial order. This could trigger the parent receiving child support payments to request a review.

The financial situation of the parent making the payments could also change. Perhaps this parent has additional, unforeseen financial obligations.

Whatever the reason for the need to modify the child support order, it is helpful to understand some of the basics before moving forward with the request. The laws that impact these requests are generally creatures of the state. As such, it is important to note that the information provided below is based on Tennessee state law and could vary for those in similar situations in other states.

When can a parent request a child support order modification? Requests to review a modification to these orders can be made at any time, however, Tennessee's Department of Human Services notes that there are some restrictions. For example, the agency deters parents from making a request within two years of a previous request.

A parent can overcome this restriction in certain situations. Examples include the addition of another child that requires financial assistance, a child that no longer requires financial assistance or a change in income. A sudden disability can also trigger a request for modification during this time period.

How does a parent make a request to modify the support payment? Generally, the parent making the request will complete a Petition for Modification. The document requests information including the names and birth dates of the children receiving support as well as the reason for the request.

In order to move forward with a review, the request must result in a 15 percent difference between the current support amount and the new, requested payment. Low income families require a 7.5 percent difference.

How does the review process work? If the agency agrees to review the modification request, an Affidavit of Income and Expenses is sent to both parents. This document is designed to provide the agency with information about the income of both parents. Once the information is received, the Tennessee Child Support Division begins a review. The parents will receive notification after the review is complete. This notification will either provide the new modified support payment or state that the amount is not subject to change.