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Why could child support be modified?

The amount initially ordered to be paid in child support is not necessarily the amount that will be paid for as long as the child is a minor. There are cases where the support order can be modified. Some reasons for doing this include:

1. The person who is paying has another child and needs money to properly care for that child.

2. A child for whom the money was intended has, through illness or injury, become disabled.

3. A child who was the subject of the support order has passed away.

4. The income being earned by either the person paying support or the person receiving it has changed in a major way. For example, one person could have lost his or her job, leaving that person with no income at all. Other examples include the passing down of an inheritance, money that is won in the lottery or money gained from any other source.

Typically, modifications have to be for a significant amount. The threshold is usually at least a 15 percent change in either direction. For example, if the person was paying $1,000 per month, the change would have to be to at least $1,150 or $850 per month. If the change is being made and the provider is considered to be in a low income bracket, the minimum difference shrinks to just 7.5 percent.

As you can see, modifying an order is possible and sometimes quite necessary in Tennessee. It's important not just to know that it's possible, but also to know what legal steps need to be taken.

Source: Tennessee Department of Human Services, "Modification of Child Support," accessed Jan. 15, 2016

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