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Does remarriage affect child support obligations?

Although dual-income households are increasingly common, questions about child support calculations may still confront divorcing California couples. A recent article highlights one particularly troublesome area.

At the time of a divorce, a court will generally consider each parent’s income and overall financial profile when determining child support obligations. As readers know, a modification of that order may be possible if a divorced parent encounters sudden financial hardship.

But what if a divorced parent remarries? That parent, benefitting from a dual-income household and the economy of shared expenses, might be able to accommodate an increase in his or her child support obligations. Under that rationale, can the other parent -- who is still a divorced single parent -- request a reduction in child support, while requiring the remarried parent to provide more?

The answer, according to a 1994 California law, is probably no. State lawmakers did not think it was fair to legally require a new spouse to provide support for a stepchild. However, is it fair for the newly remarried spouse to continue to receive the same amount of child support assistance?

As a family law attorney knows, the grounds for requesting a modification of a child support order can include a variety of considerations. State law uses a guideline, formula-based approach. However, changes in circumstance may arise from more than just salary fluctuations. In other words, the inputs and outputs are variable that, when adjusted, might result in different amounts owed or that must be paid. An attorney might be able to provide more advice regarding those factors.

Source: Huffington Post, “New Spouse Income and Child Support in California,” Mark Baer, Dec. 4, 2013

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