With a wedding in the works, child support may be one of the last things on your mind. However, if you have children from a previous relationship, either parent's remarriage can affect child support. It's important to understand how a new marriage will impact the support you pay or receive. This article provides an overview of remarriage and child support in Kansas. If you have questions after reading this article, please contact a local family law attorney for advice.
Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children. Although only one parent is required to pay child support, both parents' incomes are used in the calculation.
Kansas has established child support guidelines, which provide a formula for calculating support. The guidelines rely primarily on the parents' incomes and the child's needs. These guidelines help simplify the process of calculating child support. Nevertheless, judges may deviate from the guidelines. In doing so, they must consider all relevant factors, including:
A parent's misconduct or extramarital affairs does not affect child support.
Over time, a parent's financial circumstances may change, whether through a job loss or remarriage. If either parent's income has changed significantly, he or she may ask a judge to modify child support.
Remarriage alone isn't enough to change a child support order, but it can still have an impact. Kansas allows a parent's child support obligation to be reduced if he or she has additional dependent children. Thus, children born as a result of either spouse's remarriage may lead to a reduction in child support.
The parent seeking a support adjustment must file a motion before any changes can be made. If the court agrees with the request, support will only be adjusted as far back as the month after the motion was filed. Child support is still owed as required by the court order until the judge issues a new support order.
Either parent can seek a modification by filing a motion (written request) and submitting relevant financial information to the court. However, newer child support orders require a more significant change in the parents' finances before they can be altered. If an order is less than three years old, a parent must show that a material or major change in finances has occurred. Modification actions for orders over three years old may be granted even if there has not been a major change in circumstances.
A request to modify child support must be accompanied by income information for both parents and any new spouses. Although child support can't be based on a new spouse's income, financial assistance provided by a new spouse may affect a parent's ability to provide child support. For example, in one Kansas case, a mother's appeal to increase child support was thrown out because her financial situation was better that the father's due to her remarriage.
When deciding child support, a court will consider each parent's income as well as his or her ability to meet basic financial expenses, such as food and housing. A new spouse who provides a lavish lifestyle to the child's parent may unwittingly cause that parent's child support obligation to increase. If a parent is spending a lot less on basic needs, such as clothing, housing, maintenance, and car payments as a result of remarriage, a judge will presume that parent has more income available to pay child support.
Unfortunately, some parents may try to hide their income or stop working altogether to keep their child support obligations low. Concealing or misreporting income to a court is always a mistake. If your spouse is hiding income or has quit his or her job in an effort to avoid a child support obligation, you have recourse. In such circumstances, a judge can assign or "impute" income to the deadbeat parent.
A court will decide the amount of income to impute based on the following:
Even seemingly basic child support orders can be difficult to understand. Furthermore, the rules governing child support in Kansas are complex. If you have questions regarding the effects of remarriage on child support in Kansas, contact a local family law attorney for advice.