If a party gets remarried following a divorce with children, the court will not consider the new spouse’s income when determining child support nor can the court order the new spouse to pay towards child support or maintenance.
Child support is based upon a parents’ income, the time the children spends with each parent, and whether a parent is financially supporting other children. The court may modify child support based upon a substantial change of circumstances sufficient to justify revision of the current child support order.
The court considers the following as a “substantial change of circumstances:”
1. Change in the payer’s income
2. Change in the needs of the child
3. Change in the payer’s earning capacity
4. Any other factor the court determines is relevant.
Based on the above, remarriage is not sufficient to show a substantial change of circumstances warranting a revision of child support.
However, there are limited circumstances in which a court may consider the fact that a party has additional income available to him or her through a remarriage. As cited above, subsection 4 is a “catch-all” provision that allows the court discretion as to the factors it weighs when determining child support. Therefore, for example, if a party claims he cannot afford to pay additional child support, the court may determine his general economic circumstances have been improved due to a remarriage and additional spousal income as a reason to modify child support. Or, if a payee claims that she needs additional support because she cannot meet her budget or the needs of the children, the court may consider the fact that a new spouse contributes to that budget when reviewing same.
Maintenance is entirely different. For maintenance, remarriage is a determining factor that stops maintenance payments to the payee if the payer: (1) has proof of remarriage, (2) requests that the court vacate the current maintenance order, and (3) sends a copy of the request to the payee. Remarriage of the payor does not affect maintenance payments at all and is not grounds for the payee to seek additional monies.
The bottom line: a new spouse has no obligation, either directly or indirectly, to support a child of a former marriage/relationship or to a former spouse. There is no direct effect of remarriage on a child support or maintenance order.