How should parents in Tennessee use child support?

Parents in Tennessee should know how they can and cannot spend child support payments. Knowledge of legal uses helps avoid conflict and confusion.

Newly divorced parents in Tennessee may be fine with either paying or receiving child support, but conflict may arise with deciding how to spend child support. To quell unrest, both parents should know what the most recent laws say about legal uses of child support. That way, they can take care of their kids and get back to building a life after divorce.

The essentials

Child support covers childrearing essentials, which include shelter, food, education, transportation and clothing. Some parents use child support for costs related to child care essentials, such as paying a mortgage or rent to provide a child with shelter or car maintenance to transport a child. The court may not consider these related costs as a misuse of child support.

The parent who receives child support does not have to let the other parent know how she or he spends child support, nor does the recipient have to seek the other parent's permission before spending child support money. Usually, parents have a bit of leeway regarding how they spend child support. That said, the parent paying child support could have a legal case if she or he feels the child is a victim of neglect, even though the paying parent keeps up with child support payments.

The circumstances

With shared parenting time, courts may adjust child support payments depending on how much time the child spends with each parent. Regarding shared physical custody, both parents bear financial responsibility for their child for the basic expenses mentioned above. That said, the parent who pays child support does not have the right to deduct essential expenses from scheduled child support payments.

The additional expenses

Some courts factor in additional expenses when calculating child support payments. Scheduled payments may include a child's dental and medical costs, or the court may include the cost of transporting the child back and forth between parental households. Child support could even include the price of post-secondary education. Parents with children who participate in extracurricular activities may have to pay for their child's activities and associated costs out of their pocket. That, or they can use basic child support to pay for their child's extracurricular activities.

The provisions

To get ahead of potential disagreement, divorcing parents may want to consider extra childcare expenses when creating their parenting plan. Adding such provisions allows parents to negotiate unplanned childcare costs, such as activity fees for band or gymnastics.

Tennessee parents must know the legal uses of child support, no matter if they send or receive payments. Speaking with a legal professional helps parents understand the most recent laws regarding the use of child support.