Does Remarriage Affect Existing Child Support?
At some point, the majority of people who have divorced go on to marry again. I am often asked if the remarriage will have any effect on child support as it does on spousal support. The short answer is “no” as the custodial parent’s remarriage alone will not usually warrant a change. For example, if a custodial mother that is currently receiving child support remarries someone earning a large salary resulting in a higher household income, the child support is not likely to be reduced by the courts. Judges use many factors to determine child support, which is mostly determined by the parents’ incomes and the needs specific to the children. Typically, courts only adjust child support based on specific circumstances such as a change in custody, a change in income, either parent’s relocation, and other factors.
In Arkansas, the courts use family support charts to determine the amount of child support that a non-custodial parent is to pay the custodial parent. Arkansas has recently changed the way child support is calculated. It is now based on a percentage of each parent’s income. To read a quick FAQ about the revised child support guidelines, check out my past blog. Keep in mind when looking at these charts; they only give an estimate of the child support amount. The courts have the ultimate decision on the amount considered to be fair for the child. Judges consider many other factors when determining if the amount should be increased or decreased. Courts typically give a financial credit to the parent who pays for the child’s health insurance, if a child spends a large percentage of time with the non-custodial parent; the child support amount is likely to be reduced in either of these circumstances. Additionally, if the courts believe the amount is unfair in any way a judge may lower the amount.
As for remarriage, the remarriage alone will not be a deciding factor for a change in child support amount. In addition, many people are under the false belief that having more children from a second marriage will lower the child support. The courts do not believe this is a reason to lower child support obligations because having more children means a person is voluntarily taking on the additional financial obligations another child will bring. I believe many people are under this false belief because courts initially consider the amount of children a person has at the time of the initial child support obligation determination.
As with all laws, there can be exceptions. For example, if the remarriage is in a combination of “acceptable” factors warranting a child support modification, then the courts may consider lowering the child support obligation. The usual events resulting in a modification are:
- The child reaches the age of majority
- A change in either parent’s income
- A parent’s relocation
- Change in custody
- A change in the amount of time the child spends with each parent
- A modification by the state to the child support chart
If you believe a modification of child support is needed, it is important to gather all evidence pertaining to your financial circumstances to present to the courts. A motion will need to be filed for modification. Whether you are just starting the divorce process, need a child custody modification or any other family law legal counsel, Kevin Hickey Law Partners is here for you. Having an experienced, open-minded attorney who understands what you are going through can make the process much easier and less stressful. Kevin Hickey Law Partners will never make judgments or assumptions about any client; we are here to help you get the best possible outcome.