Negotiating travel expenses (costs of transporting the children for visitation) seems to be one of those items parents wait until the last minute to think about. But it can be very important and can be a large percentage ofyour monthly child support obligation.The court has wide discretion in this issue and it is usually in your best interest if you can come to an independent agreement with your ex.

Judges will consider which parent moved and why. The parent who moved may be asked to pay more of the visitation transportation costs than the other parent. Then judges consider cost. Is the high cost of travel for visitation going to prevent the traveling parent from seeing the child as often? If so, thenwhat again was the reason for the move? Finally, most judges want to know the relativeabilityof the parties to pay.After having all of the facts, judges will usually rule in a way that makes practical sense because the Guidelines provide little limitation on judicial discretion.

Tennessee Child Support Guidelines state, “If parenting time-related travel expenses are substantial due to the distance between the parents, the tribunal may order the allocation of such costs by deviation from the presumptive child support obligation, taking into consideration the circumstances of the respective parents as well as which parent moved and the reason that the move was made.”

These provisions merely require the judge to “consider” whether a reduction in child support should occur as a result of visitation transportation costs. There is no mandatory reduction in child support for travel related to visitation. There is also no formula to tell a judge how to calculate an adjustment to a parent’s child support obligation from among choices of methodology, such as allocating costs between the parents or cost-offset ratio against a strict computation of the child support obligation.

Because the travel expenses reduction is fraught with judicial discretion, the long-distance parent should be ready to argue for a specific, quantified reduction in child support, and to demonstrate the reduction relative to the actual costs of engaging in long-distance visitation. The relocating parent might also want to demonstrate a solid history of taking part in all local visitation opportunities to help bolster the claim that visitation, even if expensive, will regularly continue into the future.

If You Have Questions Please Feel Free To Contact Our Office.
Ryan K McFarland • 1 (931) 919-4376

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