When couples divorce in California, the court will often order one party to pay the other alimony and/or child support payments to the other. If one of the parties remarries, does that affect spousal support and child support?
When it comes to alimony, the legal obligation to pay automatically ends when the spouse receiving spousal support gets remarried. However, if your divorce agreement states that alimony must continue even if the supported spouse remarries, there is no way the paying spouse can end or modify spousal support. Additionally, if alimony is paid in the form of a lump sum or transfer of assets, the supported spouse’s remarriage won’t have any impact.
If the supported spouse cohabitates with a new romantic partner (prior to remarriage), the paying spouse may request a modification to lower or end alimony payments—unless the supported spouse can prove he/she still needs such payments. When the paying spouse requests the change, the court will only consider the supported spouse’s new financial situation, rather than the new romantic partner’s income.
In regard to child support, the remarriage will not have a direct impact in California since only the child’s biological parents are legally responsible to support him/her, not the new stepparents—unless there are unique circumstances which result in severe and immense hardship to the child. For instance, if the child’s biological parents are not able to take care of the child’s basic needs with their current income, but the custodial parent’s new spouse has significant income, the court may factor in the funds available to the custodial parent through his/her new spouse.
Furthermore, if a paying parent remarries and has more children, he/she is not allowed to voluntarily lower child support payments for starting a new family. If a parent wishes to modify child support, he/she must prove that there has been a significant financial change for one or both parents.