child support

What Happens to the Support Amount If I Remarry?

child supportIf you are currently divorced, a wide variety of factors may be considered when making the decision to remarry. Among those factors are the numerous financial ramifications of remarriage. Specifically, you should consider what happens to the support amount if you remarry. Remarriage could impact your current child support and/or spousal support whether you are the one paying or the one receiving support.

Remarriage and Child Support

When the parents of a minor child decide to divorce, the law dictates that both parents have a continuing obligation to provide financial support for the child until the child reaches the age of majority. Typically, that obligation takes the form of a child support order, meaning one parent pays child support to the other parent on a weekly or monthly basis. The amount of child support is determined by using the Tennessee Child Support Guidelines which take into account things such as the income of both parents, the amount of time the child spends with each parent, and the cost of health insurance or other necessities related to the child. That order remains in effect until such time as the court agrees to modify or terminate the order.

If one of the parents decides to remarry at some point down the road, the issue of child support often comes up again. If the parent getting married is the one receiving child support, and you are the one paying child support, you may feel entitled to a reduction in the support amount. This is particularly true if the new spouse is wealthy. While you may feel justified in seeking a reduction, the law does not typically see it that way. Child support is owed to the child, not the parent. Moreover, a step-parent has no legal obligation to financially support a step-child. Therefore, the parents continue to be financially responsible for the care and maintenance of the child and child support continues to be calculated based on the income of those parents, not the income of a new spouse.

Conversely, if you are the parent receiving child support, and the parent paying support decides to remarry, you may feel entitled to an increase in the amount of support you are receiving given the fact that your ex-spouse now has the benefit of a two-income household. Once again, however, the law does not see it that way. The new spouse has no legal obligation to help financially support a step-child. As such, the law will typically not take the new spouse’s income into account when calculating support.

Spousal Support and Remarriage

Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, may also be ordered during a divorce. Just as with child support, one spouse may wish to revisit the issue of spousal support as a result of a remarriage. Spousal support, however, is generally treated differently when there is a remarriage. The purpose of spousal support is address the financial inequality often caused by a divorce, particularly after a marriage of long duration. The idea behind a spousal support award is to ensure that a spouse with less earning potential can go back to school or transition into the workplace again if possible. When neither of those options are realistic, spousal support is intended to allow the recipient to continue to live the life he//she was accustomed to during the course of the marriage.

Because the goal of spousal support is to help correct the disparity in income that frequently occurs as a result of a divorce, remarriage will usually trigger a modification or termination of spousal support. The terms of the original spousal support award will likely govern the issue of remarriage. Most awards include a provision that terminates the spousal support obligation upon the remarriage of the recipient.

If the party paying spousal support decides to remarry, however, that remarriage will not impact the support obligation. Voluntarily taking on an additional financial responsibility, in the eyes of the law, is not a reason to modify or terminate a pre-existing obligation.

Contact a Tennessee Child Support Attorney

If you have additional questions or concerns about remarriage and how it impacts child support and/or spousal support in Tennessee, it is in your best interests to consult with an experienced child support attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.

Dinah Michael