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Common Tennessee child support modification myths

| Jan 24, 2019 | Divorce

The payor or the recipient may desire post-divorce child support modifications for many reasons. If a recipient notices her spouse, who works at a low-wage job, suddenly drives a red Mustang GT350, brags online about luxury resort vacations and flashes a two-carat diamond pinky ring on Instagram, she may suspect that unknown to the court, his job title changed from fry-cook to master chef.

On the other hand, if a payor notices that her ex-spouse, who cannot work due to a permanent back injury, is the lead story on the local news for winning the state golf championship, she may suspect the father of her children has made a miraculous recovery and should begin paying child support.

Myth #1:  Parents can modify child support themselves

Some divorced couples verbally agree on child support modifications and decide their informal arrangement is sufficient. They do not want to pay an attorney or produce paperwork to justify the request to the court. The recipient, who expected an increase from her former spouse, finds he dislikes the new arrangement. Since she has no legal proof, the recipient is out in the cold.

Myth #2:  Parents do not need proof of past support payments

It is important to make timely child support payments; however, an honest payor who uses the wrong form of payment is open to trouble. The court may not accept cashier check stubs with “child support” written on them. A payor who makes cash payments without obtaining a signed receipt enables a spouse to claim she has not received payment. Unfortunately, the payor cannot prove otherwise.

The payor can make an appointment with his legal counsel, even if a modification order is not currently at issue, to set up the right financial trail should an ex-spouse ever claim nonreceipt of child support.

Myth #3: National Guard or Reserve cases are different

A divorced civilian’s child support payments reflect civilian job earnings. Even though the armed forces may pay the civilian less during deployment with the National Guard or Reserve, the person cannot put off a child support modification until after deployment ends. Upon return, he or she could end up in jail. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the military does not tolerate unmet or informally lowered child support payments. Obtaining a legal child support modification is necessary before—not after–the civilian leaves on deployment.


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