According to Pew Research, the U.S. has the world’s highest rate of children living in single-parent households. In fact, nearly one of every four children under the age of 18 live with only one parent (23%) which is more than three times the share of children around the world who do so (7%). Making sure that these children are cared for sufficiently is the goal of a sound child support agreement. However, establishing a child support arrangement can be difficult. Finding a resolution that is acceptable in meeting the needs of all those involved is often emotionally and financially stressful.

If you are trying to establish a child support arrangement or modify an existing one, consulting with an experienced Tennessee child support attorney can help. I can provide you with the comprehensive legal guidance and advocacy you need. As your attorney, I will fight for the best interest of you and your family.

The Law Offices of Fisher Wise proudly serves clients throughout Chattanooga, Tennessee, and other surrounding communities, including Hamilton County, Red Bank, Soddy-Daisy, East Ridge, Bradley County, and Bledsoe County.

Understanding Child Support in Tennessee

In Tennessee, both parents are responsible for supporting the needs of their child(ren). The amount that each parent will be required to financially contribute will depend on the following:

  • Number of children being supported

  • Special needs of the children

  • Work-related childcare expenses

  • The combined income of both parents, including wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, overtime payments, and other income sources

  • Medical insurance costs for the children

  • Available parenting time

Tennessee courts calculate child support following the state Child Support Guidelines. Other factors that are considered to be in the best interests of the children will also be used to determine child support payments.

In making their calculation, the court will combine the adjusted gross income of both parents and use a percentage of the total, referred to as “Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO),” to determine the actual amount of child support required.

What is Imputed Income?

When a parent is voluntarily unemployed, underemployed, or refuses to show proof of their income, Tennessee courts will still order them to pay a fair child support amount. This is referred to as the imputed income.



How Does Tennessee Courts Calculate Imputed Income?

Tennessee court will try to determine a parent’s earning capacity using the following factors:

  • The parent’s education or job training

  • The parent’s employment history

  • The parent’s previous income

  • The parent’s ability to work

  • Assets owned by the parent

  • Additional education or job training

In the event of no reliable evidence of a parent’s income, the court will impute the income of at least $29,300 and $37,589 for female and male parents, respectively.

Modifying an Existing Arrangement

Child support payments aren’t set in stone. Under Tennessee laws, a child support arrangement can be modified if there’s a “significant variance” between the existing support order and the amount being requested (Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 1240-02-04-.05). The significant variance is usually a change of at least 15%. Scenarios that can cause you to change the existing child support arrangement include:

Change in Circumstances of the Parents: Such as remarriage, an increase or decrease in a parent’s income, change in parenting time, or change in the number of children a parent is legally responsible for.

Change in Circumstances of the Child(ren): Such as an increase in the child’s needs.

Termination of Child Support in Tennessee

The obligation to pay child support in Tennessee ends when:

  • The child reaches age 18 years, or;

  • Graduates from high school.

Also, child support in the state could end earlier if the child becomes emancipated. For instance, the child becomes employed, gets married, or quits school. An experienced child support lawyer can offer guidance on how to terminate child support in Tennessee.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

Child support arrangements in Tennessee can be very complicated. If you are trying to establish a child support arrangement or believe that circumstances have changed and you think your child support payments should be modified, consult with an experienced family law attorney immediately.

At the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, I have dedicated my career to handling matters related to child custody, child support, and divorce. As an experienced child support lawyer, I can help with every aspect of your child support arrangement process, including modification or termination. I will be your legal counsel and advocate throughout the entire child support process. Call me today to get the comprehensive legal guidance you need.


If you are trying to establish a child support arrangement or modify an existing one, call the Law Offices of Fisher Wise, to schedule a free case evaluation. I will help you understand your child support arrangements and child support modification options. I proudly serve clients throughout Chattanooga, East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, Red Bank, Hamilton, Marion, Sequatchie, Rhea, and other surrounding counties of Tennessee.