The Financial Impact of Remarriage

A divorce case does not necessarily end when the judge signs the divorce decree. Often one party is ordered to pay maintenance, also known as alimony, to the other party. If there are minor children then child support will usually be ordered. As circumstances change it is often necessary for one of the parties to ask the court to modify its previous orders regarding the amount or duration of payments.

A common situation has the former husband paying maintenance, child support or both. Questions arise when one of the parties later marries or begins living with a new partner. This article will address common concerns regarding how this change of circumstances affects the payment of child support and/or maintenance.

1. If my ex-wife gets remarried does it impact my child support?

In most cases remarriage will not have any impact on child support. The new husband is not legally responsible for the children. The children are the responsibility of their parents. The court will base child support on the incomes of the parents. This often raises problems when the children’s mother marries a new husband who is wealthy. The father may have a tight budget and paying child support is a financial hardship. Meanwhile, the ex-wife and children are living an affluent life. Because the children are well taken care of by the mother and step-father the father feels his support is not necessary, at least not at the level he has been paying. The court will not usually be persuaded to reduce child support. The children remain the responsibility of their parents. The court cannot force the step-father to provide for the children and will not take his income into account. In extremely rare cases a court might grant the father a reduction from his child support if the parties’ financial conditions suggest it is in the best interest of the child or children. (For example, if the mother and step-father live rent and mortgage free in an inherited property). The burden for this type of adjustment is very high and the reduction will not usually be granted. The situation changes dramatically if the mother’s new husband adopts the minor children. In this scenario the step-father becomes a legal father to the children and is now required to provide for them. The natural father is no longer responsible for ongoing support of the children. There are two things to keep in mind about adoption. First, the adoptive father will be responsible for future support but the biological father will be responsible for any arrears which accumulated prior to the adoption. Second, and more importantly, if the children are adopted the biological father loses his legal standing and is no longer entitled to parenting time with the children.

2. If I get remarried will it impact my child support obligation?

The same rules discussed above apply when the father gets remarried. The step-mother’s income is not counted when determining child support, only the income of the parents. Furthermore, the father is not legally obligated to support his step-children, if there are any. His income will not impact the child support calculations in his new wife’s case either. Child support may be impacted if the father has another child with his new wife. This is a factor which the court should take into account when reviewing the father’s child support obligation. Now his income has to support hi current family as well as his children from the prior marriage. However, the reduction available will not be proportionate to the increase in family size. For example, if the father is paying child support for one child from a prior marriage then has a second child with his new wife, the reduction in his child support will be far less than fifty percent. Even though his older child is now only one-half of the total number of children, the support figure will be modify only slightly.

3. If my ex-wife gets remarried, or moves in with a new partner, do I still have to pay maintenance?

The answer to this question depends to a great degree upon the wording of your divorce orders. In many cases the ex-wife’s remarriage will terminate her prior husband’s obligation to pay maintenance. However, this is not always true. Maintenance is tax deductible to the paying party if certain requirements are met. One of the requirements is the maintenance must end upon the occurrence of at least one of a list of conditions. The listed conditions include death of either party, remarriage of the recipient or cohabitation by the recipient with another adult in a marriage-like relationship. The important fact to remember is the tax code requires at least one of the conditions to apply, not all of them. It is possible to draft a maintenance order which terminates only upon the death of either party and does not address re-marriage or cohabitation. T

his is why it is so important to look at the specific language in your divorce orders. Usually remarriage is listed as a terminating condition, but it does not have to be included. Co-habitation is often a trickier issue. It is relatively easy to prove a party has remarried. A search of public records or wedding announcements in the local paper may be enough to prove the point. There are not generally any public records of parties living together, however. It can be very difficult to prove cohabitation. If the two partners each maintain a separate address, even if one address sits unused, it may be evidence they are not cohabitating. At least one court has found the payment of rent by one of the involved parties to the other is evidence they are not cohabitating. The result is cohabitation theoretically will terminate maintenance in most cases, but the practical application is much harder.

4. If I get remarried do I still have to pay maintenance?

Unless you are marrying the woman to whom you owe the maintenance, the answer is yes. Even though you may be incurring more financial responsibilities by starting a new household you do not receive a break from your maintenance obligation for getting remarried. Each of the scenarios discussed above is meant to be illustrative. The facts of each case, and the law of the jurisdiction, are paramount considerations in modification cases. If you have questions about how the changes in your life will impact your maintenance or child support payments you should speak with a qualified domestic relations attorney in your area.

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15 comments on “The Financial Impact of Remarriage

    I think it’s disgusting how men get royaly screwed when it comes to child support, they act like she was raped and didn’t intend on having a child and didn’t know the costs and consequences involved, spread your legs your gonna have to pay for a kid, but taking a man for more than he has is disgusting, be fair you don’t want him around your child he shouldn’t have to pay more than he can afford for that child, the courts are idiotic too, if she screwing a new meal ticket that meal ticket should pay for what’s around him…….. this coming from a woman…..

    Completely agree. I was totally screwed over, even more so, because I have a child with special needs. I’m broke. Living in a small condo. She is sitting pretty in the 3100 square foot house we bought just 3 months before she divorced me. Its absolutely discusting!!!

    Its gross how women want to drain their ex. Ughh I’m married to such a awesome man and his dirty kids mom always looking to f*** with him I’m a woman with 4 kids n never would I make their dad miserable. We grown lets go half wtf this world. How women now days want to sit on their ass waiting for child support check to survive

    Hey anyone who can help, my ex is getting remarried, she is asking for more child support knowing the more I give I won’t have an apt to have a relationship with my kids and my job doesn’t wanna give me time off to go to court and I’ll lose my job and be held in comtempt please help she doesn’t deserve the money I pay for my kids, her fiancé yells at them they are scared and wanna live with me

    “. The court cannot force the step-father to provide for the children and will not take his income into account. ”

    No, the court is a fraud with allowing child support to continue when the ex spouse remarries. The married couple are getting a tax free income stream from the ex-husband who’s forced to continue to pay child support (or go to jail), when the child is reasonably now taken care of by the step-dad.


    The best thing is to take care of the children the next is 50/50 custody the reality is it might not be in your favor to choose a option is to not take on a family life are make it work and move on to better the new one

    I just read this article and am recently going through a divorce myself. Its more than upsetting how the”system” treats men. So bias, then you have “some” not all, who knows how to work the system to their advantage and drain men of their hard earned money. It frustrates me to no end. I would love to get a child support reform legislation in process for this injustice to men. Granted, there are men out there that need to step up to the plate and provide for there own regardless of ex. Children are unfortunately in the middle of this war, and don’t choose to be. It’s a very sad reality.

    Oh! You guys should meet my husband’s ex-wife! She’s Asian, can speak decent english but doesnt want to work! And she even has the nerve to ask for additional money from my husband.. The thing is, the divorce judgement says “NO MAINTENANCE” but my husband has to pay the child support.. last year of June, she asked for an increase of $100 because the baby is drinking too much milk! (child is only 1 yr old and support is $189 per week) but the judge dismiss the case.. now.. she;s doing it again! we received a summon because she needs $100 increase! not even a year!!!

    That is all nothing agains the mother of my stepdaughter. She has now 6 kids from different fathers, my stepdaughter is the oldest one, she is getting 25 % of my husband gross income, but studies say parents only invest 16 % of the gross income to raise a child. why does he has to pay then 9 % more? And nobody here needs to think thats all he has to pay, the mother doesnt want to spend a penny of the child support on the child. The only thing she is buying is food with the food stamps she is getting. She doesnt buy any clothes, shoes, school supplies, pay for haircuts or even want to pay the gas money to bring the child to a doctor. If my husband doesnt pay for anything else the child just doesnt have any school supplies or fitting shoes and clothes. We had that alle before when my husband said for that he is paying every month child support. She let the girl running aroung with to short and to tight clothes and shpoes for almost a half year, but in these time she was able to make party at least 4 times, buy herself a new car and got every 4 weeks her nails done. Just 2 weeks ago she asked for a raise. For what she needs a raise? She doesnt even pay anything…

    I’m a divorced single dad of two little girls. Prior to the divorce my wife convinced me to move to a depressed area. She cheated, we divorced, and she’s remarried now. My concern is with the LAWS. The formula used to calculate “child support” isn’t for “child support” at all. It’s to maintain an “Equal Standard of Living” at both parents homes! What is severely overlooked is that the money paid by most fathers (and in some cases moms) isn’t required to care for the kids it’s required to maintain a living standard for the other parent who makes less. It’s all well and good until their situations change (marriage or whatever) and the Standard of Living at one residence improves dramatically. My ex married a Doctor. I don’t mind paying support to ensure my kids are taken care of, but it’s NOT my responsibility to support my ex wife … it’s why i divorced her. Her new husband has taken that responsibility. Her income should go to supporting her kids when they’re with her and if she’s strapped … guess what? Step up new husband and take care of your wife. Instead, they continue to go on vacations, buy toys, boats, cabins, new cars … while I’m broke, had to sell my home, downsize my living conditions, live paycheck to paycheck so I can write her a check every month. Now I’m out of a job because the are I live in is extremely recessed and I have to make a choice to move so I can make my payment and lose 50% custody of my children, or stay here to be in my children lives but be so broke I can’t hardly support them when their with me. Someone explain to me have any Judge in their right mind can see that situation as “the best thing for the kids”?? The laws are BS, they screw over people, and they are not administered in a fair and balanced way. I really needs to change.

    Somebody please help. I am getting married to my fiance. We already ha 2 young kids. He has a 9 yearold boy with a previous woman, but we’re never married. He pays over 1000 in child support. His ex has remarried and her new husband makes good money, and are living a luxury life. We on the other hand are always on a tight income . I am currently looking for a job, because there is never left over money to put my kids in any activities. As soon as we get married, will that child support go down or no.

    Fight for your kids, go to social services and talk to a caseworker , tell them what your kids r telling u its worth an investigation to really see what’s going on , don’t give up , and ifs she is getting married,what do she need more money for, and u do need to take off from your job and handle your business, take off for personal reasons and keep your job out of your business and also get joint custody of your kids , that will help too ,good luck

    So I am the mother of two AWESOME kids. I have physical custody. I make really good money and could probably easily make it without child support from the kids Dad. He used to be a good Dad. Now he never calls or sees his kids. He moved 15 hours away to live with his now wife. He doesn’t call his kids, nothing. Not even on birthdays. They are devastated. Anyway, this guy is PISSED as many men are that he has to pay child support because I make decent money. The new wife thought she was gaining a decent paycheck and is pissed that some of it goes to my kids. I hate it for those that were married to people that didnt work. However, you chose that. Just like my ex chose to move away. He would pay nothing if he lived here. As a matter of fact I would probably have to pay him. Anyway, everyone has an obligation to care for their children and give them the best life possible. If your not working. Get a job! I read these comments and it is exactly why I will never someone that has school aged kids. Just too much drama and anger all around money. I am not going to tell my ex that I am fine and he can keep his child support. Its not fair for him to build a retirement and live a lavish life while I spend all of my money on OUR kids. Everyone needs to do the best the can and put their best foot forward for their children. Otherwise dont have them. Meanwhile quit bitching about paying for them.

    Hi Sally I believe that all adults are responsible for the children that they produce.The system that is designed child support family court is to insure that the children are taken care of exists because we revert into children when the relationship ends . I work and every dime except rent goes to the maintenance and upkeep of the children we produced. Not all single mom’s are out getting their hair done and nails. When we were together we planned to pay for our kids college he spent the money courting his now wife. I am paying that alone. So when I read about men or women that generalize about how child support is being used it upsets me.

    My husband of 14 years has an ex wife and a teenage daughter (16). Husband always paid maintenance, medical aid and school fees. Ex-wive has now re- married, decided to become a house wife and had send the expensive slow learning kid that had added to private school and after care expenses teen age girl to me and my husband (we chose not to have children in our marriage due to high demand careers) Exwive has been seeing daughter at our expense for the last four school holidays and our finances has now started to slide. I had asked husband to arrange for mother to pay some support her answer to this was ” I am not employed and have no money” Daughter was send to us before getting married and becoming house wive.

    Now What?

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