Maybe your divorce is over and you’re ready to re-enter the dating pool. Perhaps you’ve already found your perfect intended spouse. Either way, you’re wondering what happens to child support when you remarry. Here’s what you need to know about how remarriage may impact child support

Does California Use Spousal Income in Child Support Calculations?

California courts use a complex formula for calculating child support.

The two primary variables in the formula are:

  1. Parental net income 
  2. Custodial time distribution

A parent’s income and the child custody arrangement, in part, determine the amount of child support. In addition, courts consider the number of children for whom a parent is responsible. 

Under California law, both parents have the responsibility to provide financial support for a child. The duty to support a child does not change if either parent remarries. 

Unless the child’s other parent agrees to a termination of parental rights and your new spouse adopts your child, the former spouse parent will remain responsible for their portion of child support. Usually, the new spouse or partner’s income is not used to calculate child support.  

If the paying parent remarries, the parent who receives child support may believe that the court will include the new spouse’s income. Many parents file for an increase in child support and later find out that the law dictates a decrease in child support. 

On the other hand, when the receiving parent remarries, the paying parent may wish to have the court include their new spouse’s income. A parent who seeks a decrease in child support may learn that their child support obligation actually increases. 

What are the Reasons to Change a Child Support Order in California?

Regardless of which parent remarries, marital status is not a factor in child support. 

Some factors that support a modification of child support orders include

  • A change in either parent’s income
  • A parent lost their job
  • A parent became incarcerated
  • A parent welcomes another child from another relationship
  • A change in the amount of time a child spends with each parent
  • A change in the child’s expenses for child care, health care, or education

When a parent remarries, they may welcome a new child or change jobs, supporting a change in child support. However, remarriage is not automatically a reason to change child support. 

When Can Spousal Income Be Included in Child Support in California?

In rare circumstances, a new spouse’s income may be considered in child support. California law allows it in “extraordinary” cases when excluding the income would lead to “extreme and severe hardship” to a child receiving support. 

Even in an extraordinary case, courts will consider whether including the income of a subsequent spouse will be detrimental in certain ways. Particularly, courts consider whether including the income would lead to extreme and severe hardship to a child supported by the remarried parent or subsequent spouse or nonmarital partner. 

Under the law, these rare circumstances may include situations where a parent who is remarried voluntarily or intentionally quits work or reduces income, or who intentionally remains unemployed or underemployed and relies on a subsequent spouse’s income.  

How Does Remarriage Impact Child Support?

Even though remarriage may not directly impact child support, it may have some indirect impacts. Some of these indirect impacts may support a change in child support. 

For example, if a remarried parent wishes to spend more (or less) time with their child. Since the amount of time a child spends with a parent is used to calculate child support, a change in time spent with a child can lead to a change in child support orders. 

Remarried parents may have or adopt new children. California law considers the number of dependents when determining child support. So, additional children can change the child support calculation. 

You don’t have to guess whether your situation is one in which child support can be changed. Reach out to an accomplished and reputable child support attorney to discuss the details of your case.