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.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

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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93 Comments on "The Financial Impact of Remarriage"

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1 month 4 days ago

If I remarry can my x ask for more alimony based on my new wife’s income?

1 month 4 days ago
My bf of one year is going threw a divorce after being seprated for 2 years they have a 2.5 year old together. I am currently 3 months pregnant. We both have decided we don’t want to be together because it’s too much pain for him to be near another child without his first being around. Can I file for child support from him, if I do does that effect his soon to be exwife? If she files first do I not get child support? I make $400 a month before taxes, he makes $1,600 before taxes and his exwife… Read more »
Good dad.
2 months 6 days ago

Hi all. I pay child support for two marriage. My ex has now married and her husband claims my children on his taxes. My daughter will be soon taking his last name. My 16 old son refuses. Am I still required to pay child support? If I am no sweat. Just want to do what I am legally bound to do.

2 months 24 days ago
My spouses ex is asking for more money to send the kid off to college. We currently pay a fixed dollar amount per month that they agreed to and a consent order submitted to and accepted by the courts. In the new consent order it specifically states that neither parent can, for any reason, request the terms of the consent order be adjusted or modified this includes no COLA adjustments. At no time has any agreement addressed the subject of college and despite my spouse quite rightly saying we cant afford it since we now have 3 little ones of… Read more »
3 months 2 days ago
I got married to my husband 2 years ago. He has custody of both his kids since they were 3 and 4 years old. Since the beginning of this year, his oldest son (who will be 18 in Nov) has decided that he hates us. After many years of their mother being out of the picture she has finally come back and took him for the summer. He just texted us today saying that he would be back for the school year, but that we can’t expect him to do anything at home (clean his own room and dishes). And… Read more »
3 months 15 days ago

Hi , can anyone help, I’ve got 2 children from a previous relationship (not married ) and I pay child support, am getting married next year, can she ask for more money.

3 months 6 days ago

Typically and by law child support is based off the “actual parents” income not the new spouse’s. I’ve always thought if the new spouse is ever to be “financially responsible” for someones child then they should have biological parental rights to that child ie. visitation rights, legal custody, etc… =)

4 months 4 days ago
I’m a single mom with custody of our 4 children. My exhusband lived with his girlfriend The Whore since the day after the separation, and married her 6 years later, in May 2015. She is quite wealthy and he has no burden of daily living expenses. Her income is not considered, even though he lives very well off of it. Our 3 minor children are on Medicaid. When our oldest turned 19, he said we would have to ask The Whore to add her to her family health insurance. We could not. My ex does not pay for our 3… Read more »
2 months 15 days ago
I’m getting ready to marry my girl friend that has three children under the age of 6 from a previous marriage. She’s a stay at home mom since day care expenses for 3 kids would out weigh what she could make financially if she got a job. She is currently receiving child support, and the kids are on Medicaid. Will our marriage or my income affect whether the kids stay on Medicaid even if the kids aren’t mine? I ask because the health insurance I would have to pay would exceed the amount recieved in child support. I have no… Read more »
Jimmy Johnson
4 months 5 days ago
I am a single dad, who has been divorced since 2010. My ex hasn’t done much for the kids since 2009; in fact, she left me with 4 kids for 2 years following the divorce, with the exception of 1 day per week, which was also inconsistent. She was awarded $220,000 on blew threw it in 2 months, which was partly used for her next house and a more flashy car for herself. During those 2 years, she partied it up, had 8 boyfriends and her current husband, who I call #9 (yes, I know it’s childish), and she never… Read more »
3 months 6 days ago
I’m not sure of the situation based on your post. It sounded like you had the kids when you said she left them with you so I’m not sure why you would be paying her child support still. If that’s not the case and she is the custodial parent then in a positive light you can look at it this way. Your kids got a new house to live in and a safe car to make it to and from places with that 220k. Hopefully they have the same at your place. You know, all this stuff is hard to… Read more »
maria de la torre
3 months 19 days ago

I am a mother and been separated for 3 years with 3 boys I dont get child support. and he does not give me a cent. I consent him seeing my boys cause he is loving to them and helps them out and that’s okay with me, but reading your story and just thinking how young your kids are . If I were you I would not or you should not giver shit! and would not allowed her to see them, she does not deserve it.

3 months 6 days ago

I think you don’t have any legal grounds not to consent to him seeing his kids. If you tried to withhold visitation it’s likely you would lose big in Court. You have to be the parent and be level headed. If you start acting as if you are controlling and unreasonable then you will lose.

You have the right idea though, that he is loving and it’s best for the kids to see their father just as it is for them to see their mother.

Derek Phelps
6 months 22 days ago
I”m a single dad, divorced now for nearly 2 years (June 2014), but separated for 4.5 (Apr 2010, she walks out) years before that. I was fortunate, cause my ex-wife made all the mistakes splitting the relationship as she Left me when I had all three (of our) kids, and no attempt to contact me or kids for 4 months. I was told many times I should have filed the divorce than, but I was naive that somehow she was the prodigal child, and want to eventually see things fixed. It was repetitive for many years, she’d left for a… Read more »
3 months 6 days ago
You know they will take the child support guidelines and run the numbers. They have wide discretion on whether or not they will modify support it but they can modify it because technically has been a material change in circumstances. In my state it’s all about the kids so that money is not the parents it’s really just the kids money and their entitled to it because they really had no choice in these matters right? You two brought them onto the earth and now you both have the duty to support them. Those guidelines are just to make sure… Read more »
8 months 3 days ago

What do I do in case where the dad got married again, mom is single and not interested in a relationship, dads new wife won’t even allow him to pay maintenance or even use the medical aid. He has his own company and living a good life. The other problem, she has to be nice to him before he gives money to the child and she can’t because his married. She lost her job due to her daughters illness. What can she do and she don’t want that money for herself it’s for his child.

3 months 6 days ago

It sounds like you don’t have the facts right. New wife doesn’t have ability to stop someone from paying maintenance. If there is an Order then he would have to pay.