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Can you seek child support as an undocumented resident?

Whether due to a divorce, separation from your partner or more, you may find yourself in the position of seeking child support payments from your child’s other parent to adequately provide for your child. Child support payments are meant to assist children by providing the resources they need to grow and develop.

However, as an undocumented resident, you may question whether you have the right to seek such support. You may also worry about appearing in a Tennessee family court, due to fears of encountering law enforcement officials. While these are the legitimate concerns of many undocumented immigrants, you deserve the right to pursue the best interests of your children.

Undocumented residents can seek both child support and custody

Contrary to what many might believe, undocumented residents still have rights to seek child support for their children. Both legal and illegal immigrants can also fight for custody of their children. Ultimately, courts consider what is in the best interests of the child, regardless of immigration status.

How Tennessee courts determine child support payments

The Tennessee Department of Human Services states that children have the right to be supported by their parents. Child support obligations are calculated according to pre-determined guidelines that ultimately consider the adjusted gross income of both parents and the number of children that require support. These payments are meant to support several key expenses, including:

  • Educational costs
  • Health care expenses, including insurance costs
  • Child care costs
  • Other basic, everyday needs or expenses

The parent without primary custody, or the Primary Residential Parent (PRP), typically seeks financial support from the Alternative Residential Parent (ARP), or the parent without primary custody.

Navigating legal challenges as an undocumented resident

Due to the nature of seeking financial support from a former spouse or partner, child support disputes can become contentious. As an undocumented resident, you may fear the other party using your immigration status against you in court.

However, immigration status should not dictate your parental rights or your child’s rights. In such challenging yet critical situations, seeking the assistance of a skilled immigration and family law attorney can help to explain your options, fight for your rights and advise on an appropriate path forward.

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