Enforcing child support orders in the state of Tennessee

The state of Tennessee has several enforcement remedies it may employ to encourage parents to fulfill their child support responsibilities.

It is generally held that children in Tennessee and elsewhere have a legal right to be supported by both of their parents. In order to ensure people fulfill their financial obligations toward their children, even following a divorce or legal separation, the courts may issue child support orders. Most parents willingly comply with this court-ordered responsibility; however, there are some situations in which people do not keep up with their payments. Whether the non-payment is voluntary or due to circumstances beyond their control, the state has several options for enforcing child support awards.

Wage and income withholding

To encourage parents to stay current on their child support responsibilities, the Tennessee Department of Human Services may issue automatic wage withholding orders. These direct their employers to deduct a specified amount from their paychecks, which is forwarded to the state and applied to their obligation. Under certain circumstances, the DHS may also withhold amounts from benefits being paid to parents, such as workers' compensation or unemployment.

Asset seizure

In some cases, parents may have assets or funds, but choose not to comply with their child support obligations. The state's DHS may use the financial institution data match program to identify the accounts of people who are in arrears. The assets located through such searches may be seized and applied toward their past due balances.

Revocation of licenses

Neglecting to fulfill court-ordered child support obligations can carry personal, recreational and professional implications for parents. When people owe past due support, the state may seek an administrative revocation of their driver's licenses. They may also have their recreational licenses, such as hunting and fishing permits, and professional licenses, including contracting or law credentials, suspended. Typically, these suspensions remain in effect until they have caught up on their arrears or made an alternative arrangement with the state or court.

Property liens

When non-paying parents are property owners, the state may place a lien against their holdings. While this action alone does not result in the recovery of any owed support, its presence may encourage people to resolve their past due balances. Until they pay their debts, such liens prevent parents from transferring, selling or borrowing against the involved property.

Seeking legal guidance

Many of the remedies for non-payment of child support in Tennessee are administrative. Though, if these enforcement methods are ineffective, people may seek assistance from the court. In order to help them navigate the complexities of pursuing enforcement help, receiving parents may benefit from working with a lawyer. An attorney may guide them through the process, as well as look out for the best interests of them and their children.