In the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, exactly what is meant by “special needs education” could be more clearly defined. Most judges are likely to interpret the provisions in a way that makes logical sense on a case by case basis. For example, a child with autism, severe learning disabilities, or serious physical challenges will assuredly be deemed to have special education needs. There may be closer judgment calls when a child has educational needs such as tutoring fees or medication related to diagnosed ADHD. But, a child with a desire to excel in equestrian competition will unlikely qualify as special education needs although it may fit as extracurricular add ons within the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines.
Private school education expenses can be added to Tennessee child support. Most courts are more likely to include private school tuition if the parents’ children have already been attending private schools and the parents can afford the tuition, even if means requiring financial sacrifice.
A child’s special needs is an example of a deviation. A deviation means “add it to the child support tab.” Technically, a deviation could be an increase or a decrease in the overall support amount. It’s just that there are very few “downward deviations” (reducing child support). In general, deviations go one way, upward, causing an increase in the child support award. The income shares model did not change this aspect of Tennessee child support law.
5. Extraordinary Education Expenses.
(i) Extraordinary education expenses including, but not limited to, tuition, room and board, fees, books, and other reasonable and necessary expenses associated with special needs education or private elementary and secondary schooling are not included in the basic child support schedule.
(ii) Extraordinary educational expenses may be added to the presumptive child support order as a deviation.
Tennessee Child Support Guidelines, August 2008.
Memphis divorce attorney, Miles Mason, Sr., JD, CPA, practices family law exclusively with the Miles Mason Family Law Group, PLC in Memphis, Tennessee serving clients in Germantown, Collierville and the west Tennessee area. To learn more about Tennessee child support laws, read and view:
- Tennessee Child Support & Divorce Law Answers to FAQs
- How to Modify Child Support in Tennessee
- Tennessee Child Support Law Video Series
- Tennessee Child Support Resources
- Top 6 Tennessee Child Support Strategies