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Tennessee Child Support Rules

Posted by Tamara

In Tennessee, court ordered child support is enforced by the Tennessee Department of Human Services. In Tennessee, unlike many other states, the DHS will also enforce an order for spousal support (sometimes called alimony) if it is issued in conjunction with a court order for child support.

The DHS collects all child support if the court order was issued in 1994 or later, and child support is being withheld from the parent’s payroll check. In addition the DHS may administer collection of child support if requested by the custodial parent, or if the custodial parent is receiving public assistance such as the Tennessee Family First program.

The Tennessee DHS will assist in establishing the paternity of a child and enforcing child support orders. It also enforces orders for medical support including health insurance and cash for uncovered medical expenses. Payments may be made by direct deposit.

Any parent, grandparent or other person with custody of a child can request child support services through the Tennessee DHS. The agency charges a $25 per year fee for this service. The agency also provides a free, downloadable 35-page booklet on child support in pdf format at

The DHS cannot assist parents or caretakers with other child custody and support issues including:

  • Resolving visitation issues
  • Resolving custody disputes
  • Divorce
  • Legal advice
  • Restraining orders or orders of protection

One of the main purposes of the DHS is to recover funds that the state has paid out for support of a child through Families First. If the state is owed money for public assistance, a portion of child support must go towards paying that amount. By federal law, if a state or federal tax return is seized, that money must be used to pay the state back first. This also applies if the family has received public assistance in any other state.


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