Hardship Exceptions to Tennessee Guidelines Due to Child Support Modification
Hardship Exceptions to TN Guidelines Due to Child Support Modification
- In the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, there are very few opportunities for downward deviations. This is one. But, the restrictions are very specific and very few people will qualify for this exception.
The Tennessee Child Support Guidelines read:
(h) Hardship Provisions Due to Modification of Order.
- Any time following the effective date of these Rules when a tribunal is considering modification of an order initially established under Tennessee’s Flat Percentage Guidelines, and the tribunal finds a significant variance between the amount of the existing child support order and the amount of the proposed child support order calculated under this chapter, which change results from the application of the guidelines rather than from the change in the income and/or circumstances of the parties, then the tribunal may modify the current child support order up to the full amount of the variance or may apply a hardship deviation as described below in parts 2-4.
2. For orders being modified as described in part 1 immediately above, the tribunal may deviate from the amount of child support required by the Income Shares Model and limit the amount of the upward or downward modification if:
(i) A deviation is supported in writing in the order by the criteria in 1240-2-4- .07(1); and
(ii) The tribunal finds that the change in the amount of child support caused by the transition to Income Shares will create a hardship either to:
(I) The recipient of the support who will have a substantial decrease of previously ordered support; or
(II) The payor who will have a substantial increase of previously ordered support.
3. It is not the intent or purpose of these guidelines to reduce the lifestyle the child(ren) enjoyed under the previous guidelines merely by the application of the income shares guidelines. Rather, the intent is to appropriately allocate the financial responsibilities of the parties with regard to the child(ren) while considering the status quo of the parties. Accordingly, the tribunal shall consider the following factors in determining whether a hardship will be created by the application of the income shares guidelines:
(i) Whether the significant variance is created solely by the application of the income shares guidelines or whether it also includes a significant change in the income of either or both of the parents
(ii) Whether the parent has incurred fixed expenses based on the amount of support previously ordered, including but not limited to mortgage payments, automobile payments, and other long-term financial obligations;
(iii) The standard of living the child(ren) enjoyed as a result of receiving the current level of support. In making this determination the tribunal shall consider the amount actually incurred by the PRP for basic expenses comparing the actual basic expenses incurred with the BCSO set forth by the guidelines. If the tribunal finds that the actual amount incurred for basic expenses exceeds the presumed BCSO and that the actual amount incurred is reasonable considering the relative incomes of the parents the tribunal may use the actual expenses as the BCSO.
(iv) If the child(ren) incurred Extraordinary Educational Expenses or Special Expenses that were previously included in the support amount determined under the prior guidelines, the tribunal may consider those expenses if the application of the guidelines does not adequately take said expenses into account. The tribunal may also make an equitable division of these expenses so as to maintain the status quo with regard to the financial obligations of each party.
(v) If the current order for support includes provisions for allocating the cost of medical and / or dental insurance and uninsured medical expenses, the tribunal may compare the allocation of said expenses under the application of the guidelines with the allocation under the order.
4. The hardship deviation, if allowed, cannot be utilized in a later action to create a significant variance.
5. No modification under this hardship provision shall be made to the extent that it would seriously impair the ability of the PRP in the case under consideration to maintain minimally adequate housing, food, and clothing for the children being supported by the order and/or to provide other basic necessities, as determined by the court.
Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, August 2008.
Memphis divorce attorney, Miles Mason, Sr., JD, CPA, practices family law exclusively with the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC in Memphis, Tennessee. To learn more about Tennessee child support laws, read and view: