One of the most important of all divorce settlement terms is the child support order. Generally, when a couple divorces, the children will reside primarily with one parent while the other parent has regular visitation. Child support is payment made by the non-custodial parent for the care of their child. Child support typically becomes part of a court order and is therefore required as per the order. Sometimes, a divorced parent remarries, and they may wonder whether their new marital status will have any impact on their existing child support order.
Child Support Guidelines
North Carolina utilizes guidelines in place statewide to determine the amount of child support that a parent must pay. Child support is designed to cover the normal expenses of a child’s daily needs, such as education, health, room and board, and clothing, to name a few. The courts evaluate a number of factors to determine the appropriate amount of child support in each case. Some factors they review include income, costs of medical insurance, and childcare expenses, among others. The judge will look at any relevant documentation that each party provides in calculating child support.
Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “If I remarry, can they look at my new spouse’s income?”
Changes to child support can only be done through a court child support modification. Parents cannot simply decide to change the payments without a hearing. To request a change to a child support order, there must be a substantial change in circumstances. This means that you cannot request a change unless there is a reason, and you must be able to prove there is a substantial change in court.
The party who wants the change should file a motion and both parents will attend a hearing in front of a judge. Keep in mind that not all requests are granted, and the judge will always act in the best interest of the child. There are several examples of “substantial changes in circumstances,” such as:
- A change in the needs of the child
- A parent has a decrease in income
- A change of 15% or more between the old and new guidelines (applies to orders that have been in effect for at least three years)
How Remarriage Might Impact Child Support
Getting remarried alone is not enough of a change to trigger a child support modification. However, there may be some additional circumstances that could make a modification review possible. It is important to know that a new spouse generally does not have a legal obligation to pay an existing child support order from a previous relationship. If a parent remarries and there are other substantial changes in circumstances, the remarriage could play a role in the new calculation of support.
For instance, if there are additional children to support, this could be considered in the new calculation. Also, the income of the new spouse may be a consideration when determining the new amount of child support in a modification. If the new spouse is contributing to the household expenses, the parent may have fewer expenses and, therefore, may be able to afford more support.
Child support modifications must be made through the court system. An experienced family law attorney will assist you through the process. To learn more about child support modifications, call us today at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, at (704) 370-2828 to schedule a free initial consultation.
You Cannot Reason with the Unreasonable. The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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