How Does Remarrying Affect Child Support in Indian River County?
Life moves forward after a divorce. It’s natural and healthy for both spouses to want to remarry after their divorce. If you remarry after a divorce, your spouse may raise concerns that the new marriage should change the amount of child support he/she owes or the amount you can claim.
The state of Florida has specific guidelines for determining when a parent should pay support and how much support should be paid. The guidelines apply to original orders for child support and to modifications of any child support order. The judge or other trier of fact can deviate from the guidelines up to plus or minus five percent – based on considerations of the child’s needs, age, the standard of living, station in life, the number of children, and the financial status of each parent.
The guidelines use specific factors to determine the amount of income of each parent. The guidelines consider many other income and support issues such as daycare expenses, any unusual health expenses, tax consequences, and many other issues. The amount of child support is also based on the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
The guidelines are based on a Shared Income Model. That means the income of both parents is considered. The Model essentially provides that the amount of support should be in the same proportion of the income of each parent as the child would have received if the parents lived together.
How does the remarriage of the custodial parent affect the amount of child support that is due?
In Florida, the noncustodial parent normally pays child support to the custodial parent. The duty of child support is for the benefit of the child, not the spouse. For this reason, if a spouse who is receiving child support remarries, the remarriage (alone) does not affect the amount of child support the other parent /ex-spouse must pay. If a spouse who is receiving child support (the custodial parent) does remarry, the Florida guidelines can revisit the income factors – starting with reviewing how the new spouse affects the financial needs of the custodial spouse.
The new spouse’s income is not directly added to the list of factors. However, if the new spouse is paying for certain household needs and needs of the child, those payments can be considered. The stepparent’s contributions, such as paying part of the mortgage or rent, usually mean that the parent receiving support has more disposable income – which can then be used for the child. If a spouse has more disposable income (through the spouses’ contributions, a new job, or for any reason), then the increase in disposable income may justify a decrease in the amount of support the other parent (the non-custodial parent) must pay.
In short, it’s not the remarriage that justifies a new support order. In that sense, child support is different than alimony where alimony can be grounds for terminating alimony payment. The judge or trier of fact deciding whether to modify child support can consider the indirect change to the income of the parent who is receiving support – due to the financial contributions of the new spouse.
How does the remarriage of the noncustodial parent affect the amount of child support that is due?
The reverse analysis generally does not apply. If a custodial parent remarries, the amount of child support can be reviewed. If a noncustodial parent remarries, the amount of child support is not considered – even if the new spouse contributes to the household bills of the noncustodial parent. Again, the key focus is on the needs of the child who is living with the custodial parent and not the financial concerns of the parent.
If a noncustodial parent remarries, then the remarriage could affect the amount of child support in indirect ways. For example, a new marriage may require that the noncustodial parent quit his/her job to move to where the new spouse lives. In this case, the loss of a job isn’t voluntary – and may require a temporary reduction or termination of child support. The judge reviewing the modification will review whether the noncustodial parent can obtain a new job in the new community he/she lives in with the new spouse.
What happens if a parent voluntarily quits their job after remarrying
If a custodial parent or a noncustodial parent remarries and quits his/her job because the new spouse can pay the bills, that should not affect the amount of child support that is due. The noncustodial parent still must pay child support to the custodial support. The child comes first. There’s a big difference between stopping working (and seeking to reduce or end a child support order) because you need to relocate - and stopping working because you don’t need to work.
If a custodial parent voluntarily quits his/her job because the new spouse can pay the bills, that should not affect the amount of child support the noncustodial parent has to pay.
How does having a new child with a new spouse affect child support?
Divorced parents have the right to have children with their new spouses. Generally, the noncustodial parent can’t seek to modify a child support order based on having new children. The paying spouse should understand he/she has a duty to support the child of the prior marriage. However, if the custodial parent who is receiving child support seeks an increase in child support, the noncustodial parent can use his/her obligation to support the new child as a defense against the increase request.
A possible exception is when the new child has a disability. A judge may consider a decrease in child support for the children from the prior marriage if the new child has special needs.
Additional modification considerations when a spouse remarries
The guidelines provide that increases or decreases based on changed financial circumstances due to a new marriage will only be granted if there is a “substantial” change in circumstances. Substantial generally means the new order must be at least 15%, or $50 or more, whichever is greater.
Make an appointment to modify an Indian River County child support order today
At Lulich & Attorneys, our Vero Beach and Sebastian child support family lawyers represent parents and spouses who are seeking child support, contesting child support, or seeking a modification of child support. We explain your rights, the likely child support orders, negotiate agreements, and litigate child support contests in court. To discuss child support, child custody, and any divorce issues, call us at 772-580-5500 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment