Remarriage and Child Support in Idaho

Learn whether a parent’s remarriage could affect an existing child support order in Idaho, including whether judges may consider a new spouse's income or a parent's support for additional children.

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The prospect of getting remarried after divorce is a lot to think about. If you live in Idaho and are paying or receiving child support, you might be concerned about whether your remarriage (or your former spouse's) could impact the current amount of support. Probably it won't, but there might be some exceptions to that general rule.

Calculating and Modifying Child Support in Idaho: The Basics

Idaho has guidelines for calculating child support. The amount is primarily based parental income, the number of children being supported, and how much time the kids spend with each parent. The law presumes that the amount of support calculated under the guidelines is correct. But a judge may order a different amount when evidence shows that the guideline amount would be unfair or inappropriate under the particular circumstances.

Parents may request a modification of their existing child support order. Generally, they'll need to demonstrate that there's been a substantial change in circumstances. However, they may request a review of the existing order even without a change of circumstances if it's been at least three years since the order was issued or last reviewed.

(Learn more about how child support works in Idaho, including the rules for calculating and modifying support.)

Does Remarriage Qualify as a Change in Circumstances?

In and of itself, the fact that a parent has remarried won't ordinarily qualify as a change of circumstances warranting child support modification. Theoretically, there might be some circumstances related to remarriage that could impact child support. For instance, if a parent voluntarily quit working after remarrying, a judge may decide that child support should be calculated based on that parent's potential (or imputed) income.

However, as explained below, Idaho sets strict limits on the impact of a new spouse's income or the existence of new children after remarriage.

Does a New Spouse's Income Count in Child Support Modifications?

If there's a case to be made that a new spouse's income should impact child support, you'd think Idaho would be a prime example. That's because Idaho is one of only nine community property states. In these states, the law presumes that each spouse has a one-half interest in income or assets that either spouse acquires during the marriage.

In theory, that should mean that a parent's interest in a new spouse's income could bump up the parent's income level—which would then increase the amount of child support calculated under the guidelines. If that were true, it could qualify as a significant change in circumstances to warrant a modification.

But the Idaho legislature nixed that idea. The state's law and guidelines make it clear that for purposes of child support, a parent's income does not ordinarily include that parent's community property interest in the financial resources of a spouse who isn't the child's parent. (Idaho Code § 32-706(1)(b); Idaho Rules Fam. Law. Proc., rule 120(e)(1)(D) (2024).)

The law does provide an exception to this rule when there are "compelling reasons" to consider a new spouse's income, but it doesn't spell out what those reasons might be. In one Idaho case, the appeals court rejected a father's argument that the disparity between his income (under $34,000 a year) and the resources in the mother's new household qualified as a compelling reason to include her community interest in her husband's $400,000 annual income. (Harris v. Carter, 189 P.3d 484 (Idaho Ct. App. 2008).)

Similarly, Idaho's guidelines rule out considering the fact that a parent is receiving money from someone else or sharing expenses—again, unless there's a compelling reason to take that benefit into account. (Idaho Rules Fam. Law. Proc., rule 120(e)(1)(E) (2024).)

Can Children From the New Marriage Affect Child Support?

The child support guidelines in many states allow consideration of a parent's support for other children, including additional kids from a new marriage. Under Idaho's guidelines for calculating initial child support orders, parents may deduct from gross income any support they're providing for other children. But when a parent is requesting a modification of an existing support order, judges in Idaho may not consider that parent's children who were born or adopted after the initial order was issued. (Idaho Code § 32-706(5); Idaho Rules Fam. Law. Proc., rule 120(f)(5) (2024).)

When one parent has requested a modification, the guidelines don't say whether judges may consider the other parent's new children.

Getting Help With Changing Child Support After Remarriage

You may request a review of your existing child support from Idaho's Child Support Services, if you meet the agency's requirements. And you can find the full text of the state's current child support guidelines (rule 120) on the website for the Idaho Rules of Family Law Procedure.

But if you're hoping to get a modification based on remarriage, whether yours or your spouse's, you should speak with a lawyer. An experienced Idaho family law attorney should be able to evaluate your case and explain how the law applies to your circumstances, including whether you might qualify for an exception to Idaho's restrictions on considering a new spouse's income.

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