Remarriage and Child Support in New Hampshire

Learn how how a parent's remarriage may affect an existing child support order under New Hampshire law.

By , Retired Judge
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The prospect of getting remarried after divorce is a lot to think about. If you live in New Hampshire and are paying or receiving child support, one of your concerns may be whether your remarriage (or your ex's) could lead to a change in the support amount. As we'll explain below, the answer to that question will depend on the circumstances.

New Hampshire Child Support in a Nutshell

New Hampshire, like all other states in the U.S., has child support guidelines for calculating the amount of support that parents must pay. The amount of each parent's support obligation is based on their proportionate share of both parents' combined adjusted gross income. Usually, the parent who doesn't have the children most of the time (the noncustodial parent) pays support to the custodial parent. (The law assumes that custodial parents fulfill their support obligation by paying directly for the kids' expenses.)

However, if the amount calculated under the guidelines would be inappropriate or unfair because of special circumstances, the state allows judges to order a different amount. Learn more details about how child support works in New Hampshire, including when a judge may deviate from the guidelines.

Changing a Child Support Order in New Hampshire

You can't discuss the connection between remarriage and child support without first addressing the rules for changing an existing child support order.

New Hampshire will allow a modification of child support, but there are certain conditions you'll have to meet. And those conditions are different, depending on how long it's been since the existing order was issued. If that was at least three years ago, you don't need a reason to request a review of your order, based on your current financial situation and the current guidelines.

You may still request a modification even if it's been less than three years since the divorce or the most recent support order—but you'll need to prove that there's been a substantial change of circumstances. It will be up to the judge to decide whether you've met that requirement, after looking at both parents' needs and abilities to meet those needs. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:7(I)(a) (2024); Matter of State, 96 A.3d 970 (N.H. 2014).)

Can Remarriage Warrant a Change in Child Support in New Hampshire?

In and of itself, remarriage doesn't ordinarily qualify as a change of circumstances warranting a modification in the amount of child support. However, certain circumstances related to the remarriage might qualify.

When a New Spouse's Income May Be Relevant

A significant increase or decrease in income is one of the most common changes that prompt requests to modify child support. But a parent's income usually doesn't change just because of remarriage. When calculating child support under New Hampshire's guidelines, a new spouse's earnings won't be included in the parent's income.

However, there's an exception to that rule: If a parent who has remarried quits a job, refuses employment, or is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, the judge must impute (assign) the new spouse's income to the parent in the child support calculation, to the extent that the parent usually had earnings. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:2(IV)(b) (2024).)

Also, a new spouse's income might indirectly affect child support in New Hampshire. That's because the "economic consequences" of a stepparent's presence in the household is one of the "special circumstances" that may warrant deviating from the guidelines. (N.H. Rev. Stat. § 458-C:5(I)(c) (2024); In re Barrett, 841 A.2d 74 (N.H. 2004).)

So even if the situation doesn't call for imputing a new spouse's income to a parent, a judge might consider that income when deciding if it's appropriate to order an amount of support that's different than the guideline amount. Presumably this means that if a stepparent is making a significant financial contribution to paying household expenses (such as food, clothing, or mortgage/rent), that might affect a custodial parent's decreased need for child support or a noncustodial parent's ability to pay more child support.

How Stepchildren and Children From the New Marriage Can Affect Child Support

If you and your new spouse have children, your additional obligation to support those new kids might warrant a modification of the existing support order, depending on how the judge views the overall circumstances. But it's worth pointing out that New Hampshire law no longer makes stepparents responsible for supporting their stepchildren. So merely having stepchildren probably won't qualify as a substantial change of circumstances.

Still, New Hampshire law still lists the economic consequences of other children in the household—including stepchildren, natural children, and adopted children—as a special circumstance that might warrant deviating from the guidelines. Presumably, this means that if a parent has already met the changed-circumstances requirement for a modification request, additional expenses related to the stepchildren could affect the amount of support under a modified order.

(N.H. Rev. Stat. §§ 546-A:1, 546-A:2, 458-C:5(I)(c) (2024).)

How to Request a Change in Child Support After Remarriage

If you're seeking to modify your existing child support order because of circumstances related to your remarriage (or your ex's new marriage), you can request help from the New Hampshire Bureau of Child Support Services (BCSS) or file a motion directly with the court. But there are situations when you'd be better off consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney—particularly if it's been less than three years since your existing order was issued, or you're arguing for or against a deviation from the child support guidelines.

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