By Jed McKeehan

If you have a child and are either divorced, or were never married and do not reside with the other parent, there is a decent chance there is a child support order in place stating what one parent is to pay another parent in child support on a monthly basis.

You can actually google, “Tennessee Child Support Worksheet,” and it will pull up a form you can fill out and play around with the numbers to see what would be owed in child support under different circumstances.

But what happens if there is a child support order in place and the other person stops paying child support?  Well, there are a few different options.

The first option, and easiest option, is to contact the other person and inquire what the problem is and where the payment is.  Unfortunately, when someone owes someone else child support, it is usually not an amicable relationship and these conversations typically go badly or very badly.

The next option is to file some sort of motion for contempt.  This is where you file a motion with the court that set the child support order and ask them to bring the person who is supposed to be paying in to court and provide answers why they are not paying.  If the person continues not to pay, they could eventually face jail time.

Another way that a person who owes child support can end up in court is through state action.  If the person receiving child support is receiving state aid, such as Family’s First, or daycare assistance, the state is entitled to be reimbursed those funds by the parent who does not have custody.  If the person who does not have custody does not pay, the state will issue a warrant for their arrest and that person will be arrested and held until they pay a bond to get out of jail.  Any bond that is paid will be used to reimburse the state and/or paid toward the parent receiving child support.

As you can imagine, for lower income individuals, it can be very easy to quickly get behind on child support payments because it can often be hard to keep consistent employment.  In order to consistently get money, the state will suspend individual’s driver’s licenses if they do not pay.  They will also seize tax return funds and use those funds to pay down child support amounts owed.  They will also set up individuals on wage assignments and have a portion of individuals wages automatically deducted and paid toward a child support obligation.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.