Tennessee child support services are administered by the state Department of Human Services (DHS). As a parent, you may ask “What is child support?” and wonder how it can help your family. The child support program is available as a resource if you are raising your children alone and wish to establish financial support from the absent parent. In child support cases, the absent parent is referred to as the noncustodial parent. The TN child support service has resources to create child support cases, track down noncustodial parents, enforce orders that are not upheld and distribute payments. If the absent parent is the father, then the DHS can also perform steps to establish paternity. Going through a child support case can be challenging, but a child support attorney can help you understand the process and get the services you need. Below, learn more about establishing a child support case in Tennessee and how a child support lawyer can help your family.
Benefits of Getting a Tennessee Child Support Lawyer
Many Tennessee child support cases end up being established in state courts and the process can be daunting for parents. Child support attorneys can help you through the entire process and ensure that you are ready for your case. When you have a case that is more complicated, such as a case in which establishing paternity is necessary, you may feel more prepared with the help of a lawyer. Even after child support has been established for your children, you may face challenges receiving your payments on time or communicating about the terms of your agreement with the noncustodial parent. Furthermore, a child support lawyer in TN can offer more help on many of the other legal issues that commonly come with a child support case, such as divorce agreements, custody orders and other civil matters.
Child support lawyers’ fees in Tennessee vary depending on a lawyer’s individual rate and the length of time that you require legal help. Even though the fees for child support lawyers are an extra expense, it is highly beneficial to have legal support from an attorney during a child support trial.
How to Establish a Tennessee Child Support Case
You will automatically be referred to Tennessee child support services if your family currently receives support from Families First, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Transitional Child care or Medicaid. If you receive help from these programs, then a local child support service office will contact you as soon as your referral is received. You may also open a TN child support case by applying at the DHS if you are not automatically referred. To be eligible for child support, you do not need to receive any of the benefits listed above or meet any income requirements. Any parent who is raising children alone and needs financial support from a noncustodial parent can apply.
To complete a Tennessee child support application, visit a child support service office or print an application and mail it to an office. A child support application includes information about you, the noncustodial parent and your children. Be prepared to include Social Security Numbers and dates of birth for yourself, your children and the noncustodial parent. You are also required to include your children’s birth certificates with your application. If the noncustodial parent needs to be located before child support payments can begin, then you will need to include additional information about him or her. This includes the noncustodial parent’s address, employer, names of friends and relatives, organizations the parent is a member of, places where the parent spends free time and information about any property he or she owns. If you want advice when applying for child support services, then contact a child support lawyer for assistance.
What does child support cover in Tennessee?
Once your Tennessee child support application is accepted and processed, the state DHS will take steps to arrange for payments and enforce court orders. As a parent, child support enforcement is not your responsibility. The DHS employs several different techniques to enforce child support from noncustodial parents, such as withholding income, collecting money from tax returns, intercepting lottery winnings and creating court orders. Penalties for not paying child support in TN can also include revoking the noncustodial parent’s driver license, reporting his or her delinquent payments to a debt collection agency or placing liens on that parent’s property.
There are limitations to what child support services can do in Tennessee. First, a child support service office cannot guarantee that the noncustodial parent will be located. Second, there is no guarantee that payments will be collected successfully from a parent who refuses to cooperate, even if the parent is located. Third, a child support service office will not expedite or prioritize one case over another. Finally, TN child support services cannot get involved with court orders other than those relating to child support enforcement. In other words, child support officials cannot help you with custody issues, visitation rights or divorce cases. However, hiring a child support lawyer to work on your case will help if you are facing legal issues such as these.