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Tennessee modifies child support guidelines for stepparents, incarcerated noncustodial parents

From WATE -

The Tennessee Department of Human Services is revising guidelines for noncustodial parents facing extended incarceration and allowing health care credits for stepparents.


The revised child support guidelines will help align all child support orders with changing family economics, improve the system for both custodial and noncustodial parents, and meet new federal requirements, the department said.


“These revised guidelines were created through two years of collaborative work involving parents, attorneys, and our staff who were all committed to improving the child support system and helping build a thriving Tennessee,” TDHS Commissioner Danielle W. Barnes. “Parents depend on child support to create a better life for their children and it’s important for the system to reflect the changing economic realities of today’s families.”


The guidelines are the first major changes to Tennessee’s child support guidelines since 2005.

Changes include:

  • Granting noncustodial parents the right to request a modification of their child support order if they are sentenced to or currently serving more than 180 days of incarceration.

  • Allowing credit for health, vision and dental care paid by stepparents in the child support calculations.

  • Creating a minimum child support order of $100 for noncustodial parents in some circumstances.

  • Establishing a self-support reserve for noncustodial parents to ensure they have enough resources for basic needs while fulfilling their child support obligations. Under this change, child support orders in most cases would leave the noncustodial parent with at least $1,150 a month to live on.

  • Allowing a person’s criminal record to be used to determine a parent’s income if there is no other evidence to use in child support calculations.

TDHS is implementing a temporary requirement for case modifications that will remain in effect until Nov. 10, to be able to handle the expected influx of requests for child support modifications. During this time there must be a change of circumstances, such as income or number of children, in addition to at least a 15% change between the amount of the current support order and the amount of the proposed order for the case modification to be granted.


Parents with an iPhone can download an app to get an estimate of what their child support order will look like under these new guidelines. The app can be found on the Apple store by searching Child Support Calculator of TN. Parents who already have the Child Support Calculator of TNapp will need to update it to reflect the new guidelines.

Individuals are encouraged to contact their local child support office if they are in need of any of these services. Local offices can be found by visiting the Tennessee Department of Humans Services website.

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