Current through Acts 2021, ch. 595
Section 36-5-103 - Enforcement of decree for alimony and support(a)(1) In addition to the remedies in part 5 of this chapter, the court shall enforce its orders and decrees by requiring the obligor to post a bond or give sufficient personal surety under § 36-5-101(f)(2) to secure past, present, and future support, unless the court finds that the payment record of the obligor parent, the availability of other remedies and other relevant factors make the bond or surety unnecessary.(2) The court may enforce its orders and decrees by sequestering the rents and profits of the real estate of the obligor against whom such order or decree was issued, if such obligor has any, and such obligor's personal estate and choses in action, and by appointing a receiver thereof, and from time to time causing the same to be applied to the use of the obligee and the children, or by such other lawful means the court deems necessary to assure compliance with its orders, including, but not limited to, the imposition of a lien against the real and personal property of the obligor.(b) In intrastate cases, jurisdiction to modify, alter or enforce orders or decrees for the support of children shall be determined in accordance with parts 30 and 31 of this chapter.(c) A prevailing party may recover reasonable attorney's fees, which may be fixed and allowed in the court's discretion, from the non-prevailing party in any criminal or civil contempt action or other proceeding to enforce, alter, change, or modify any decree of alimony, child support, or provision of a permanent parenting plan order, or in any suit or action concerning the adjudication of the custody or change of custody of any children, both upon the original divorce hearing and at any subsequent hearing.(d) No state court order shall preclude the department of human services from implementing federal requirements for the interception of federal income tax refunds of an obligor for the payment of arrearages of child support.(e)(1) The commissioner of human services is expressly authorized to issue an administrative order of income assignment to the commissioner of labor and workforce development against any wages or wage benefits to which an obligor is entitled. Such administrative order shall be based upon and issued pursuant to an order from a court of competent jurisdiction or pursuant to state or local law, shall be deemed to be legal process in the nature of a garnishment pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 659(i)(5), and shall direct the payment of child or spousal support by an obligor parent.(2) Administrative orders of income assignment issued pursuant to the authority of this part may, in the discretion of the commissioner of human services, be delivered to a representative of the commissioner for the purpose of execution, and such representative shall have the power and authority to levy and execute such administrative order.(3) The administrative order of income assignment authorized by this section may be directed to, and effectively served upon, the commissioner of labor and workforce development by electronically transmitted data to compel the assignment of unemployment benefits in order to satisfy the legal obligation of obligor parents to provide child support payments. The transmission of any such order by the commissioner of human services shall be certification by the commissioner of the existence of the underlying court order and that the procedural requirements for notice to the obligor parent as required by part 5 of this chapter have been satisfied. The administrative order shall show the amount to be deducted from the obligor's unemployment compensation benefits by the department of labor and workforce development so as to comply with the underlying court order, and with any applicable statutes, rules, regulations, or inter-departmental agreements and, when necessary, the order shall contain the last known address of the obligor parent.(4) The state child support enforcement computer system records shall be the official records of child support orders and child support-related spousal support orders and payment records for purposes of this subsection (e).(5) If it is determined that the department of labor and workforce development has erroneously or wrongfully withheld benefits from an individual and delivered such benefits to the department of human services pursuant to a commissioner's order of income assignment, the department of human services will pay the correct amount to the individual to correct the erroneous payment.(f)(1)(A) Every three (3) years, upon request of the custodial or noncustodial parent, or any other caretaker of the child, or, if there is an assignment of support pursuant to title 71, chapter 3, part 1, upon the request of the department or upon the request of the custodial or noncustodial parent, or of any other caretaker of the child, then, in any support order subject to enforcement under Title IV-D of the Social Security Act ( 42 U.S.C. § 651 et seq.), the department shall review, and, if appropriate, seek an adjustment of the order in accordance with child support guidelines established pursuant to § 36-5-101(e) without a requirement for proof or showing of any other change in circumstances. If, at the time of the review, there is a "significant variance," as defined by the department's child support guidelines, between the current support order and the amount that would be ordered under the department's child support guidelines, the department shall seek an adjustment of the order.(B) In the case of a request for review that is made between three-year cycles, the department shall review, and, if the requesting party demonstrates to the department that there has been a substantial change in circumstances, then the department shall seek an adjustment to the support order in accordance with the guidelines established pursuant to § 36-5-101(e); provided, that if the department becomes aware at any time of a change in circumstances of either party to a Title IV-D child support case, then the department may review and seek an adjustment to the support obligation to the extent required by the child support guidelines. For purposes of this subsection (f), a "substantial change in circumstances" is a "significant variance," as defined by the department's child support guidelines, between the amount of the current order and the amount that would be ordered under the department's child support guidelines.(C) The review and adjustment in subdivisions (f)(1)(A) and (B) may be conducted by the court, or by the department by issuance of an administrative order by the department or its contractors.(2) As an alternative to the method described in subdivision (f)(1) for review and adjustment, the child support order may be reviewed, and the order may be adjusted by an administrative order issued by the department or its contractors by: (A) Applying a cost-of-living adjustment to the order in accordance with a formula developed by the department; or(B) Using automated methods, including automated comparisons with wage data to identify orders eligible for review, conduct the review, identify orders eligible for adjustment, and apply the appropriate adjustment to the orders eligible for adjustment based upon a threshold developed by the department.(3) The methods for adjustment of orders of support by issuance of an administrative order pursuant to this section shall be promulgated in the department's rules.(4) The department shall give written notice to the obligor and obligee that a review of the order of support has been initiated.(5) The department shall give written notice to the obligor and obligee of the review findings. If the department elects to seek the adjustment of the support order by issuance of an administrative order instead of by judicial order, notice of the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support shall be sent to the last known addresses of the obligor and obligee thirty (30) calendar days prior to the issuance of the administrative order adjusting the order of support pursuant to the same procedures for service of administrative orders described in § 36-5-807.(6)(A) The obligor and obligee shall have the right to contest the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support within thirty (30) days of the mailing date of the notice of the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support by filing a motion for a hearing on the proposed adjustment with the court having jurisdiction to modify the order of support and by providing notice of the hearing to the department by copy of such motion.(B) The review by the court shall be completed within timeframes established by federal law.(C) If the obligor or obligee contests the proposed administrative adjustment pursuant to the procedure in this subsection (f), no further administrative appeal to the department shall be available, and further appeal of the modified support order entered by the court shall be made pursuant to the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure.(7) If the obligor or obligee does not contest the proposed administrative adjustment to the order of support within thirty (30) calendar days of the mailing date of the notice of the proposed adjustment pursuant to subdivision (f)(6), the department shall issue the administrative order adjusting the order of support.(8) A copy of an administrative order of adjustment of the child support order shall be sent to the clerk of the court that has jurisdiction of the child support order that has been administratively adjusted and it shall be filed in the court record. A copy of the order shall be sent to the obligor and the obligee by the department by general mail at the last known addresses shown in the department's records.(9) If an order of support is adjusted by administrative order of the department pursuant to subdivision (f)(7), the obligor and obligee shall have the right to administratively appeal the adjustment by requesting the appeal to the department as provided in part 10 of this chapter. The obligor or obligee may request a stay of the administrative order pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in title 4, chapter 5. The appeal from any decision resulting from the administrative appeal shall be to the court having jurisdiction of the support order and shall be subject to the scope of review as provided pursuant to § 36-5-1003.(10) Notice of the right to request a review, and, if appropriate, adjust the child support order shall be sent to the obligor and the obligee by the department at least every three (3) years for a child subject to an order being enforced pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act. The notice may be included in the order.(11) The requirement for review and adjustment may be delayed if the best interests of the child require. Such interests would include the threat of physical or emotional harm to the child if the review and adjustment were to occur or the threat of severe physical or emotional harm to the child's custodial parent or caretaker.(g) Judgments for child support payments for each child subject to the order for child support pursuant to this part shall be enforceable without limitation as to time.Amended by 2021 Tenn. Acts, ch. 227,s 4, eff. 7/1/2021.Amended by 2018 Tenn. Acts, ch. 905,s 1, eff. 7/1/2018.Code 1858, § 2470 (deriv. Acts 1835-1836, ch. 26, § 10); Shan., § 4223; Code 1932, § 8448; mod. C. Supp. 1950, § 8448; Acts 1957, ch. 21, § 1; 1965, ch. 229, §§ 1, 2; 1979, ch. 187, § 2; 1979, ch. 339, § 3; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 36-822; Acts 1985, ch. 477, § 8; 1987, ch. 421, §§ 1, 2; 1994, ch. 987, § 6; 1995, ch. 504, § 3; 1997, ch. 551, §§ 8, 28, 45; 1998, ch. 1098, § 16; 1999, ch. 520, § 36; 2001, ch. 447, § 4; 2004, ch. 728, § 1.