Divorce often leaves a lot of unanswered questions, especially for divorced spouses with children. At the top of the list is whether your new spouse's income will affect your child support. Read on to learn more.
How Is Child Support Awarded?
The court takes child custody and support very seriously, and in doing so, the judge considers several important factors to determine a reasonable amount of support.
These factors include:
- The child's daily needs
- The custody arrangement
- Medical needs
- Education costs
The judge calculates a basic child support obligation based on the above factors, the number of children, and the net income of both parents. Essentially, this is the estimated amount of money each parent should pay for their children each month. The court may deviate from the calculated amount if extraordinary expenses come up after the judge sets the original agreement.
Remarriage and Child Support
Florida does not calculate a new spouse's income into the child support obligation. Still, if remarriage results in a drastic change in financial status for the parent, the court may alter the support agreement.
In many cases, remarriage can change the circumstances surrounding a child support obligation, but only if additional factors alter the parent's financial circumstances. For example, if a mother with physical custody of her children remarries someone with a considerable income, the court may lower the father's child support payment. However, this does not mean that the judge adds the stepparent’s income to the mother's income for the child support calculation. Instead, the court may decide that the mother can afford to use more of her independent funds for child support.
In some cases, a non-custodial parent’s remarriage may also alter the child support agreement. For example, if a non-custodial father remarries and has children with his new spouse, the court may decrease the amount of child support he owes due to his financial obligation to his new family. This is a substantial change in circumstances that does factor into the court's ruling on child support. However, the court will never increase a non-custodial parent's child support payment regardless of additional or shared income from a new spouse.
How Do I Know for Sure if I Experience Significant Changes?
Defining "significant changes" can be difficult, but there are two rules to consider when altering your child support obligation due to remarriage.
- Rule #1: Your household expenses increase. Children from a previous marriage have priority for child support purposes, but the court will consider additional costs for new children like childcare or medical expenses. For example, if a parent has a child with a new spouse, but the child requires intensive care due to a congenital health condition, the court may decide to reduce their child support obligation. Any request for modification should be because the burden of child support is too much in addition to the increase in household expenses, not because of remarriage.
- Rule #2: Your income changes drastically. If your income changes involuntarily, the court may choose to lower your child support obligation. For example, if you are laid off, fired, or unable to work due to an illness or injury, there is a drastic and involuntary change in your circumstances. Remember that your new spouse's income is not a variable in the child support calculation.
If your situation follows either of the above rules, you should consult an attorney about modifying your child support agreement.
Schedule a consultation with The Law Office of Paulette Hamilton, P.A. today for more information regarding child support.