Tigart v. Tigart (Tennessee 2021)

No. M2020-01146-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. App. 2021)
September 2021

A child support order can be modified when there is a significant variance, which means at least a fifteen percent difference in the current support obligation and the proposed support amount. In the original parenting plan, the parents agreed to an upward deviation in child support so the children could enjoy the same lifestyle. The mother filed to modify the parenting plan and for contempt. The father answered and filed a motion to set aside the divorce decree. The trial court denied the father’s motion to set aside but reduced support based on the father’s new amount of parenting time and his additional child. The mother filed a motion to alter or amend the judgment arguing there was no substantial variance in support. The trial court granted this motion and reinstated support as agreed to in the original parenting plan. The father appealed. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The parents agreed to the upward deviation to ensure the children maintained their lifestyle. The Court of Appeals found no evidence this had changed. Since there was no change in the reason for the deviation, the proposed amount of support would need to vary from the amount of support in the current order, excluding the deviation. Even when factoring in the additional parenting time and new child, the current amount of presumptive order did not vary enough from the proposed amount.