If you are a parent looking to collect back child support but do not have a court order currently in place, you should act quickly.
For parents who were married and divorced, the court will enter a parenting plan laying out how much child support is due and how it will be paid. If a parent owing child support fails to pay, any amount of back child support can be recovered as a judgment, and the owing parent could be held in contempt of court if you prove the failure to pay is willful.
However, for parents who were never married and never went to court to obtain an order of paternity and child support, there are limitations to the amount of money you may receive. Without a court order stating how much child support is due, you could be limited to only receiving 5-years' of back child support, even if your child is more than 5 years old.
Tennessee Code Annotated section 36-2-311 states that if a request for back child support is received from the parent where the child(ren) reside, he or she is limited to receiving 5 years of back support unless "good cause" is shown. Good cause can be shown if you are able to prove the other parent deliberately avoided service, used threats or intimidation to prevent court-ordered support, or if the requesting parent reasonably feared domestic abuse if a petition was filed. Therefore, it is in the custodial parent's best interest to file a petition for child support at the soonest available opportunity so that your child does not miss out on receiving support.
On the other side, if you are a parent who has been providing money to the other parent without a court order, you may face a substantial amount of money potentially owed to the other parent if you failed to keep a proper record of your payments, especially if the other parent misleads the court by stating you never provided support.
If you find yourself in any of these scenarios please give the attorneys at Saenz & Maniatis, PLLC a call today at (615) 366-1211. Your immigration status does not matter as all parents including undocumented parents can file for and receive court-ordered support.