Will remarriage affect my child support obligation?
by Taylor Joeckel
A frequent family law question we receive is whether remarriage affects child support. Unlike spousal maintenance or alimony, child support does not terminate when one, both, or either parent remarries. Regardless of whether you’re paying or receiving child support, you or your ex’s remarriage should not affect the amount of child support paid or received. However, if you or your ex have another child after remarriage, the amount of child support may be modified.
In Texas, unless the court orders child support above the statutory guidelines, the court will apply child support guidelines, which are law-based and are often referred to as the “Guidelines.” The Guidelines set a basic minimum amount of child support based on the obligated parent’s net monthly income and the number of children he or she has.
Unlike some other states, Texas does not consider the household income of the parent receiving child support and, in most cases, only the income of the paying parent is considered when setting the amount of child support. Therefore, if the parent receiving support remarries, his or her new spouse’s income will be excluded from the child support calculation. Additionally, Texas recognizes the injustice in requiring a stepparent to pay child support for his or her stepchild so, if the paying parent gets remarried, the income of his or her new spouse will not be considered either. The legal obligation to financially support children is left to the biological or adoptive parents.
Texas courts consider a child support modification if a material or substantial change occurs, such as the child’s medical needs increasing or the obligated parent’s income changes due to a job loss. In most states, including Texas, having additional children constitutes a substantial change justifying a modification of a parent’s child support obligation. Texas recognizes the fact that the parent paying child support now has another child to support, and the monthly child support amount should be lowered. However, this does not apply to any stepchildren who are now under your care.
For example, if you have one child with your ex-spouse and no other children outside of that relationship, your child support obligation will be 20% of your net monthly income. Subsequently, if you remarry and have another child with your new spouse, your child support obligation for your first child should be reduced to 17.5% of your net monthly income.
It is important to remember that the monthly child support obligation can only be modified by obtaining a new Court order; a parent’s obligation does not simply lower upon the birth of another child. The parent seeking to lower his or her monthly child support obligation must first file a modification suit with the court to open a new lawsuit.
Are you looking to modify your child support obligation? If you have questions about child support modifications, contact family law attorney Taylor Joeckel or any of our other KoonsFuller attorneys located in Dallas, Denton, Houston, Plano, or Southlake/Fort Worth. We take great pride in representing our friends and neighbors throughout the State of Texas. We hope that you give us the opportunity to represent you and your family.