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How Does Remarriage Affect Child Support?

By Ephrat Livni, Esq. | Last updated on

If you are divorced with kids and either parent is contemplating remarriage, then you must be thinking about child support, too. You are wondering if the court will change the existing child support order or if a new spouse becomes financially responsible for the kids.

The answer is generally no, remarriage does not change a parent's obligations to their children. But child support orders are not fixed in stone, and there are limited situations in which a court will change support based on step-parent financials, or a change in parental status. Let's explore.

Ex Is Engaged

Say you pay alimony and child support but your spouse is getting married soon. Your spousal support obligations will change once your ex is remarried but your relationship to your kids remains the same, as do your duties to them. Even if your spouse is marrying someone very wealthy, someone who can give the kids everything without feeling a pinch, you remain responsible for paying child support.

At a parent's request a child support change can be made in court based on changed circumstances, but a spouse's lucrative marriage is not such a circumstance for the most part. Similarly, if it is you getting married, you still must pay your child support regularly, even if you have taken on new obligations with the new marriage.

That said, parents can agree to almost anything, so if you do not involve the court and can arrange matters with your ex, you don't need the court's approval.

Changed Circumstances

Courts decide support based on the "best interests of the child" standard, so when an argument can be made for a change in support and this reflects the court's priority, a change may be ordered. If the remarried couple has far fewer financial obligations than the parent ordered to pay support, the court may consider this factor and order a lower amount paid based on the changed circumstance. But that is not common.

Generally, a parent remains responsible for their child regardless of remarriage ... unless you are willing to give up parental rights and allow the step-parent to adopt your child. Step parent adoptions do happen -- usually in very difficult or extreme situations, like a long-term incarceration for one parent for example -- and that does change the now-parent's obligation to the child who is now their own, officially.

Talk to a Lawyer

If you are concerned about child support or any other matters related to a divorce, speak to a lawyer and get advice on your options. Many divorce attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to hear your story.

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