Remarriage and Child Support in Minnesota

Child support in Minnesota won't necessarily change just because one or both parents remarry. But remarriage might have an effect on the amount of support in some circumstances.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law
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Divorced parents often move on and get married again. Remarriage won't affect parents' legal obligation to support their children from previous relationships. But could it affect the amount of child support a parent is paying or receiving? Read on to learn how Minnesota law addresses that question.

Can Remarriage Warrant a Modification of Child Support in Minnesota?

Under Minnesota law, either parent may request a modification of an existing child support order if there's been a substantial change in circumstances that makes the current order unreasonable or unfair. A parent's remarriage isn't, by itself, considered a substantial change that could trigger a modification. But the fact that one of the parents has a new spouse might have an effect on other factors that judges consider when deciding whether to modify child support.

For instance, say that a child no longer spends as many overnights as before with a parent who has remarried. Because Minnesota's child support guidelines include an adjustment for parenting time when calculating the amount of support, a change in the parenting schedule might trigger a modification if it would result in a significantly different amount of support under the guidelines. Minnesota law presumes that a modification is warranted if the guideline calculation under the parents' current circumstances results in an amount of child support that's different than the existing order by at least 20% and $75 per month. (Minn. Stat. § 518A.39 (subd. 2(b) (2024).)

Do Minnesota Courts Consider a New Spouse's Income When Determining Child Support?

The income of a spouse who isn't the child's legal parent is not included in parental income for purposes of calculating child support under Minnesota's guidelines. (Minn. Stat. § 518A.29(f) (2024).)

This means that if your ex remarries, you won't get more child support (or pay less support) just because your ex now has financial help from a new spouse. By the same token, the amount of child support wouldn't adjusted if either parent's new spouse lost a job. That's because stepparents aren't legally responsible for supporting their stepchildren (unless they've adopted them).

Will Minnesota Courts Modify Existing Child Support If a Parent Has Children With a New Spouse?

Even if a parent has another child with a new partner, that won't be reason enough to modify an existing child support order under Minnesota law. (Minn. Stat. § 518A.39 (subd. 2(c)) (2024).)

However, if there's another reason that justifies a modification, having another child might affect the amount of support under the modified order. When a judge allows a modification, the recalculation of child support will take the parents' current financial circumstances into account. Under the guidelines, there's a deduction from the paying parent's gross income for the legal obligation to support that parent's child or children with a different co-parent. Depending on the number of new children and all of the other factors that go into the calculation, that deduction might result in a lower amount of support for the child or children from the previous relationship. (Minn. Stat. § 518A.33 (2024).)

But remember: That income deduction is only for children you're legally obligated to support. You won't get a deduction for taking on stepchildren as a result of your remarriage, even if you're voluntarily providing some financial support for them.

Getting Help With a Child Support Modification After Remarriage

If you believe that you're entitled to a modification of your existing child support order because of a change in circumstances—including some change related to your or your ex's remarriage—you always have the option of trying to work out an agreement with your ex. You would still have to submit your agreement for a judge's approval (along with a modification motion), but you may be able to avoid a costly trial on the issue. Otherwise, you should at least speak with a family lawyer about your case. The standards for modifying child support can be complicated, and it can be difficult for lay people to navigate the process and get the results they want without expert legal assistance.

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