When couples with children divorce, courts typically order one spouse to pay the other child support. If the spouse paying or receiving child support remarries, however, he or she will have new expenses or additional income, and may be curious about how these financial changes can affect the child support order.
This article explains how remarriage affects child support under Georgia law. If you have additional questions after reading this article, you should consult a local family law attorney.
Georgia courts use an "Income Shares Model" to determine each parent's child support responsibilities. Generally, the parents' incomes are combined to come up with a "Basic Child Support Obligation" ("BCSO"), or the total amount the parents should spend on supporting their children. The BCSO is based on the parent's combined incomes, the number of children, and any special needs or expenses that the children may have, such as medical expenses, private school expenses, childcare costs and health insurance. Typically, the parent who has less custodial time with the children (the "non-custodial parent") will pay child support to the custodial parent.
Parents can estimate their child support obligation by entering their income and children's expenses into calculators you can download from the Georgia Child Support Commission's website.
If you would like to know more about child support in Georgia, see Child Support Basics in Georgia.
Remarriage by either parent itself doesn't affect child support. Children have the right to be supported by both parents, but not the right to be financially supported by stepparents. Regardless of whether the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent remarries, both parents must contribute towards the support of their children.
Still, if your remarriage significantly affects your financial situation, the court may take that change into account when deciding whether to modify child support. For example, if you remarry and your new spouse earns enough money that you do not have to work, the court may consider your spouse's income when determining how much you can contribute towards supporting your children. Also, if your new spouse pays all of the household bills, a judge could decide that you have more money available to help support your children. If your ex-spouse remarries, the same rules will apply to him or her.
In Georgia, the state legislature believes that after a divorce, you have the right to remarry and start a new family. You also have the obligation to financially support your new children. When courts decide whether to modify your child support payment, they'll consider whether you have other children that you must support. If you and your new spouse have a child, you may have less money available to contribute towards the support of your children from your previous marriage. A judge may decrease your child support obligation for your previous children so you have money to contribute to your new child.
If your new spouse earns an income as well, however, the court can consider that income when determining whether you can still afford to make your child support payments to your children from the previous marriage. Your new spouse's income will cover at least some of your new child's expenses. In other words, just because you and your new spouse have a child doesn't mean a judge will lower your child support amount. If your new spouse earns a substantial amount of money, your child support obligation may stay the same, or in some instances, increase.
If either spouse's financial circumstances have substantially changed, he or she may file a motion asking the court to modify child support. If you believe you should be paying less or receiving more child support, you should file a motion to modify child support in your county court clerk's office. You and your ex-spouse will have to exchange information about your current income, your children's expenses, and in many cases, your new spouse's income.
You and your ex-spouse will appear before a judge for a child support modification hearing. You should be prepared to answer questions not only about your income and expenses, but about how much your new spouse contributes to your household expenses. If the court believes that your child support obligation should change, it will issue an order modifying the child support amount as of the date the judge signs the order.
If you have additional questions about remarriage and child support, contact a Georgia family law attorney for help.