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Helton Law Firm, PLLC

Navigating the limits of child support

Whenever a divorce involves children, parents are likely to consider and argue over child support and payment. Tennessee law considers it the duty of every parent to provide proper support to their children. If a parent cannot provide support through direct care, then they will be expected to pay a reasonable amount of monetary support to the parent who provides the majority of care. This support is calculated based primarily on the parents' incomes and also on the needs of the child.

While child support payments are intended to cover many of the basic costs of raising a child, custodial parents should be prepared for the likelihood that many expenses will not be covered. The court aims to provide a child of divorced parents with a standard of living close to what they enjoyed before the divorce. The reality is that raising even one child is very expensive, and child support often does not cover non-essential care and activities.

It is important for custodial parents to carefully analyze what their child's current and future expenses may be. They would be wise to think long term, considering all of their child's needs up through the age of 18. This may include items like a first car, college tuition savings, sports and summer camps, enrichment programs and music lessons.

Most of these extra expenses are not going to be mandated by the court or factored into standard child support calculations. However, in some cases these can be handled outside of the order and provided for in a parenting agreement negotiated by the parents with the assistance of their respective attorneys.

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