The Tennessee General Assembly recently enacted a major change to laws concerning past-due child support by substantially limiting the amount of overdue child support that can be awarded. The new law limits backdating unpaid child support to five years from the date an action to collect unpaid support is filed.
Statutes of Limitations in Tennessee
For example, if a non-custodial parent has failed to pay child support for ten years, the custodial parent can only seek to collect unpaid child support for the first five years before they filed their action with the court. The other five years support that went unpaid, years six through ten, would generally be uncollectible.
Previously, a custodial parent could seek to collect unpaid child support dating back to the child's birth date. For actions filed after July 1, , this is no longer the case.
The amendment allowing only five years of retroactive support encourages filing actions for unpaid support sooner rather than later, in order to avoid missing out on years of valuable child support that would otherwise be due. It also certainly makes it easier for non-custodial parents to pay off past-due child support they may owe, as their penalty will be limited to only the five previous years' worth of unpaid support.
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With the old law, it was not uncommon for a parent to be paying support even after a child reached adulthood if the parent owed enough in unpaid child support. However, the new law may also greatly limit a recipient parent's ability to collect unpaid support. Even though filing an action sooner rather than later may help ensure that all unpaid support is collected, it is not always easy or possible for parents to pursue collecting the support that is owed to them.
Click here to find the court clerk in your county. Small claims cases are typically handled in General Sessions Court.
Tennessee Family Laws - FindLaw
For more information about small claims cases, please contact the court clerk in your county. Click here to locate your county's court clerk.
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Municipal Courts handle traffic cases and cases involving violation of city ordinances. The Municipal Court Clerk in your city will be able to assist you with questions about these types of cases. Click here to find your local Municipal Court Clerk. However, a non-custodial parent has the same opportunity to demonstrate that a shorter period should be used to calculate the amount of support owed.
Ultimately, the facts and circumstances of every individual case will determine if any change is warranted, but custodial parents should no longer expect to receive unpaid child support dating back more than five years.
Major changes to past-due child support laws by The Tennessee General Assembly
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Divorce Laws & Filing in Tennessee Answers to FAQs
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Major changes to past-due child support laws by The Tennessee General Assembly The Tennessee General Assembly recently enacted a major change to laws concerning past-due child support by substantially limiting the amount of overdue child support that can be awarded.