A last minute wedding can have long-term effects on support if you have children from a previous relationship. Yet, child support is probably not on the minds of a couple planning to marry. Nevertheless, it's worth understanding the impact of a remarriage on child support payments. This article provides an overview of remarriage's effects on child support in Nevada. If after reading this article you have questions, please contact a local family law attorney for advice.
In Nevada, a separation or divorce case involving minor children will issue a child support order. Both parents are obligated to financially support their children regardless of whether the child lives with the parent. Nevertheless, a child support order will usually designate one parent as the obligor (parent who pays support) and the other as the obligee (parent who receives child support).
Nevada enacted child support guidelines that allow parents or judges to easily calculate child support through a formula. Child support is based largely upon the parents' gross monthly incomes. The guidelines help simplify child support and make support awards consistent from case to case.
A judge can issue a child support order that deviates from the support guidelines if special circumstances exist. For example, a judge can add daycare costs or a child's regular medical expenses to a support order. Either parent can request to modify child support if or when a child's or parent's circumstances and needs change.
Child support can't be changed on a whim. Nevertheless, a parent can request an adjustment to child support if a substantial change in circumstances has occurred in either parent's life. Nevada law allows a parent to request a support order review every 3 years. Requests to adjust support filed at any other time must show at least a 20% change in the gross monthly income of either parent.
Legally, a new spouse has no obligation to financially support a child that is not his or hers. A biological or adoptive parent has the primary obligation to meet a child's financial and emotional needs. Nevertheless, a parent who remarries may have a new spouse's monetary contributions construed as an increase in his or her income. For example, in one Nevada case, the court held that a new spouse's contributions to a parent's rent and household expenses should be considered when modifying child support. A parent's income and ability to pay child support is increased when he or she no longer has to cover mortgage, rent or household costs.
A judge will examine a number of factors before adjusting child support. The following factors should be considered in any modification action:
In certain cases, a judge may assign or "impute" additional income to a parent who could or should be earning more. For example, a court can impute income to an unemployed or underemployed parent who previously earned a higher income.
Nevertheless, in one Nevada case, a trial court unfairly imputed a subsequent spouse's income to the child's parent. Specifically, the trial court erred by assigning the new spouse's income to his wife in her child support modification action. Nevada law bases child support on the gross monthly income of the child's parents – not the parents' new spouses.
Remarriage by itself doesn't justify a change to child support in Nevada. A parent's duty to financially support his or her child continues regardless of remarriage. Nevertheless, a remarriage can take a financial toll on an obligor spouse, especially if he or she has additional children born as a result of the remarriage. A judge will balance the needs of a parent's children from a current and prior marriage when deciding child support.
Moreover, a judge may adjust a remarried parent's child support obligation if his or her financial obligations are eliminated by remarriage. Although a new spouse's income can't be imputed to the remarried parent, a new spouse's contributions can justify an adjustment to support.
Either parent can request an adjustment to child support following one parent's remarriage as long as there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Nevertheless, the change must be more than just a change in marital status for a judge to adjust child support. Until a judge issues a new support order, the prior child support order remains in effect.
The effects of remarriage vary from case to case. It's worth understanding how remarriage can affect child support payments in your case. If you have questions about remarriage and its effects on child support, contact a local family law attorney for advice.