Recently I had a reader connect with me and ask if she should combine finances with her soon to be husband. She was concerned about the child support he was paying to his children’s mother and she didn’t want her income to affect his child support payments.
**You should always contact a family law attorney in your state before making any specific child custody decisions**
The Remarrying Scenario
This scenario is common in society today considering 40-50% of marriages in America have or probably will end in divorce¹. With that being said, when a married couple with children divorce, the higher income spouse usually is required to pay a set amount of child support to the other.
In addition to child support payments, there may be a parent who is considered the primary or “custodial” parent. This parent may have sole custody or will have the children the majority of the time. There are many different child custody scenarios but this article will focus on what exactly can happen to child support when one or both parents remarry.
If The Custodial Parent Remarries
If the parent who is considered the custodial parent remarries, the court-mandated child support payments will not usually be adjusted. For instance, if the wife has custody of the children, remarries, and is receiving child support, her child support payments will not be reduced if her new husband brings additional income.
Family courts consider children to be the financial responsibility of the birth or custodial parents, not step parents. Due to this, courts are reluctant to amend child support payments based solely on remarriage. Generally, family courts will only consider increasing or decreasing child support payments if one of the custodial/non-custodial parent’s income significantly changes.
If The Non-Custodial Parent Remarries
In keeping with the above scenario, if the husband remarries and his new wife also has income, child support payments will not usually be adjusted. The custodial parent can petition the court to reconsider the child support payments. However, again the court will be reluctant to change anything if the natural parent’s income has not significantly changed.
In the court’s eyes, step-parents are not responsible for stepchildren as the natural or custodial parents are. Therefore, the step parent’s additional income is usually not a factor.
Adoption And Child Support
If the wife remarries and the new step-parent desires to adopt the stepchildren, several factors can change child support. If the non-custodial parent agrees to relinquish their parental rights, the step-parent can then adopt the children as their own. When this adoption occurs, the non-custodial parent is usually relieved of paying any further child support.
Factors That CAN Affect Child Support Payments
- The custodial parent has incurred additional household expenses since the initial agreement – this can result in reconsideration of the amount paid
- Either parent has a significant increase or decrease in income
Factors That Usually DO NOT Affect Child Support
- The income of a new spouse
- Contractual agreements in the new marriage
- Additional children with the new spouse
Basic Child Support Considerations
In general, family courts consider child support to be the responsibility of the birth or natural parents. Remarriage and step-parents do not usually factor in with original child support agreements.
As I have previously discussed, the best way to manage your money as a couple is to combine bank accounts. For further information on why combining is beneficial, refer to my related article, Is Money Affecting Your Marriage?
Combined accounts will not influence the child support agreements because the courts consider the non-custodial parent’s sole income for the purposes of child support.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article and I hope this offers some much-needed guidance to you. Please do me a favor and subscribe below so you do not miss any of my future posts.