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Tennessee Child Support Collections and Fees

UPDATED: April 10, 2011

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As in other states, noncustodial parents in Tennessee must consider almost any source of their income as being potentially subject to garnishment for child support collection purposes. All income, including bonuses or lump-sum payments, must be reported to the Tennessee office of child support. Enforcing an order for child support garnishment can mean extra work for the employer. To accommodate the administrative fees associated with child support collections, Tennessee allows employers to charge the employee for each payment remitted, subject to a maximum amount. It’s important that employers familiarize themselves with Tennessee wage garnishment laws, because penalties for noncompliance are serious. This article will help clarify these laws for both an employer and a noncustodial parent subject to an order for support in Tennessee.

Income Subject to Withholding for Child Support Garnishment

A noncustodial parent subject to an order for support in Tennessee must consider any form of income as subject to withholding. Tennessee defines income to include wages, commissions, salaries, bonuses, workers’ compensation, disability, pension payments, or any profit-sharing, interest, or annuities.

Bonuses and Other Lump Sum Payments

Tennessee law mandates that employers report any lump-sum payments due to an employee subject to a support order. There is no timeframe specified for this. For more information contact:

Pamela Harney

TN Child Support Services

400 Deaderick Street, 12th floor

Nashville, TN 37243

Phone: (615) 313-2282


Termination of Employment

When an employee subject to a support order ends his or her employment with the employer, the employer must notify the agency immediately. They should send the agency a copy of the order along with the employee’s name and address, the company name, the date of termination of employment, and the new employer’s address, if known. If the employee retires, the employer should notify the agency to inform them of the name and address of the employee’s pension or other retirement administrator.

Administrative Fees

To account for administrative fees associated with the enforcement of an order, the employer may charge up to 5% of the payment amount (not to exceed $5) per month. The fee must be deducted from the employee’s wages, and not the support payment. Further, the support payment can never exceed Tennessee’s maximum withholding limits.

Penalty for Noncompliance

An employer in Tennessee who fails to withhold or to remit payment for the support order will be subject to a Class C misdemeanor. The employer will also be held liable for up to the full amount that should have been withheld.

Tennessee State Office of Child Support – Contact Information

Department of Human Services

Child Support Services

400 Deadrick Street, 12th Floor

Nashville, TN 37248-7400

Phone: (615) 313-4880; (800) 838-6911

Fax: (615) 532-2791


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