When parents are split, never married, or divorced, they’re both obligated by law to financially support their children. The only way around this legal obligation is for the mother’s or father’s parental rights to be terminated. Unless parental rights are terminated, the parents have to support their children. Usually, this means one parent, the one who has the kids less of the time, pays child support to the other parent.
Most parents in California are aware that their income, number of children, and parenting time affect how much child support they pay. However, many parents do not know if or how remarriage can affect their child support obligation.
Can Remarriage Impact Child Support?
If a noncustodial parent remarries, it will not automatically impact their child support obligation. After all, biological parents are the ones who are supposed to support their children, not stepparents. A California judge won’t typically look at the new spouse’s income, but there are limited circumstances where it can happen, such as:
- The child’s biological parents are not earning enough money to support the child’s basic needs;
- The noncustodial parent voluntarily stops working, reduces their income, or intentionally remains unemployed and is financially supported by their new spouse.
If a noncustodial parent is earning very little or they are voluntarily unemployed and relying on their new spouse for support, the family court can order the stepparent to submit their W-2s and 1099s.
As a community property state, spouses have a 50% interest in the couple’s assets. So, if a noncustodial parent isn’t paying child support, the court can issue an order that goes after the couple’s community property. However, the order cannot tap into the new spouse’s current job earnings.
“What if the noncustodial parent has new children, can that lower their child support obligation?” In some states, if a parent has new children from a second marriage, the new children can be used to reduce the child support obligation, but that is not how it works in California. Under California law, if a parent voluntarily has additional children, it cannot be used to lower the amount of child support they pay.
If you need assistance with a child support case, contact Burch Shepard Family Law Group to schedule an initial consultation.