When entering into a new marriage, it’s easy to overlook some of the legal aspects concerning your obligations to a former spouse. After all, you are fully ready to turn the page and move into a new chapter of your life. But to avoid your past interfering with your future, make sure that you understand how remarriage will impact your child support obligations. Below are five key points to know.
1. Remarriage Does Not Typically Change Your Child Support Obligations
Remarriage of either spouse does not change child support obligations that have been assigned by the Colorado court. Even if the new union changes your financial status significantly, the other party cannot request child support modification on that ground alone. The new spouse's income and financial status just don't count towards your obligations.
2. Child Support Payments May Be Altered If Your Personal Income Changes
Remember, requests for child support modifications will be considered if one of the former spouse’s income should change significantly, either up or down. But the keyword here is income, not financial circumstances.
So, let’s look at an example of when a remarriage can affect child support amounts. It’s rare, but sometimes a new spouse may set up a trust for an investment account for their new spouse, and either of those provides additional monthly income. Or, perhaps, you decided to run a joint business. In such cases, a judge may consider this to be a change in income and consider a request for modification by the former spouse.
On the other hand, you may also lose a job or another primary income source during your new marriage. Again, this is a significant change in your financial circumstances. Thus, you may approach the court with a modification petition.
3. Child Support Payments Stop If The New Spouse Adopts Your Children from a Previous Marriage
Suppose a new spouse wishes to adopt the children from a previous marriage, and the old spouse agrees to relinquish their parental rights. Once that adoption is finalized, the ex-spouse who was paying child support no longer has to. The new spouse has sole responsibility for the care of the kids who have now become their own.
Even if this new couple divorces, later on, the child support obligations, usually for the non-custodial parent, will fall on them.
4. New Children Do No Impact Child Support
If you should remarry and decide to have additional children, your financial obligations to your other children will not change. And no court will consider such a modification for that reason alone. Again, you must suffer a decrease in actual income if you intend to ask the court for any modification.
5. You Can Opt-Out of Child Support Payments
If a remarried spouse has a significant upward change in financial status, they may choose to forego child support payments. This, of course, will require respective court action.
A word of caution here: It may not be wise to opt-out of child support payments Circumstances do change. Suppose you end up divorcing your new spouse. Your children no longer have the informal support of that spouse, and you have no child support payments coming in. You will have to go back to court for another modification, to get those payments reinstated. And any new payments you are receiving in spousal support will be counted as income.
Get Legal Advice in Advance
Every family circumstance is unique. Before you remarry, consult a family law attorney about your situation. Our Family Law practice will be delighted to advise you on how your new marriage may affect child support payments.