Remarriage and Child Support in New Hampshire

A look at remarriage’s effects on child support in New Hampshire.

Remarriage can change a lot of things, including child support. Many couples don’t think about the long-term effects of remarriage on support payments. However, it’s important to understand how your child’s support payments may change along with your marital status. This article provides an overview of remarriage’s impact on child support in New Hampshire. If you have questions,  please contact a local family law attorney for advice.

Child Support Basics in New Hampshire

Both parents must financially support their children. The obligor parent typically pays child support to the parent with whom the child lives. However, both parents help provide a child with clothing, shelter, and food.

New Hampshire established child support guidelines to make it easier to calculate child support. Under the guidelines, child support is calculated based on the parents’ gross monthly incomes. For child support purposes, a parent’s gross monthly income is everything he or she earns in a month, including salary, tips, social security payments, royalties, stock dividends, bonuses, commissions, and severance pay.

In certain cases, a judge may create a child support award that doesn’t follow the guidelines. For example, an unemployed parent may still be required to pay child support. Additionally, a parent can be required to pay a higher amount of child support in cases where a child has special needs or extraordinary medical expenses. If circumstances change down the road, either parent can request a change to child support.

Modifying a Child Support Order

A parent's financial circumstances may change over time, but a child support obligation doesn't get automatically adjusted as a result. To modify support, a parent must file a motion (written request) with the court and show that a substantial change in circumstances has occurred. Some common examples of substantial changes include, a promotion, job loss, and a new baby.

A New Spouse’s Income Can be Considered

In New Hampshire, when a parent remarries, a new spouse’s separate income can be brought up in a child support action. A new spouse’s income can’t be the sole basis for modifying child support. However, a judge will consider a subsequent spouse’s monetary contributions when deciding child support. For example, in one New Hampshire case, the lower court erred by not looking at the financial obligations and incomes of both parents. The higher court stated that all evidence showing a parent’s assets, income and ability to support his or her children must be reviewed in a child support modification action.

A judge will consider each parent’s necessary expenses before adjusting support. Although a new spouse’s income isn’t directly considered, a new spouse’s household contributions will affect child support. For example, a judge may increase a remarried parent’s child support obligation if the new spouse covers all expenses, such as mortgage or rent, car payments, and food expenses.

A Court May Impute Income

Voluntarily unemployed parents will find it hard to escape their child support obligations. A judge can assign or "impute" income to an underemployed or unemployed parent. Thus, a spouse who  chooses  to earn less may still be on the hook for a higher support amount.

Before imputing income to a parent, a judge will consider the following factors:

  • the parent’s historical earnings
  • the parent’s work history
  • the parent’s occupational or trade skills, and
  • the parent’s education level.

An exception to this rule is if a remarried parent has quit his or her employment to care for a new baby. Additionally, in most circumstances a court won’t impute income to a disabled or mentally ill parent.

Impact of Remarriage on Child Support in New Hampshire

When a parent remarries, the ex-spouse may rush to file a child support modification action. But, remarriage alone isn’t enough to justify an adjustment to child support. A court can increase a parent’s support obligation if remarriage has eliminated the parent’s other expenses. However, a judge will evaluate the needs of a parent’s children from both prior and current relationships before altering support.

A remarried obligor spouse may be surprised when his or her child support obligation doesn’t change even if his or her household expenses have increased. Blending two families can be expensive. and a remarried spouse may have additional costs as a result. Nevertheless, a child’s right to financial support from both parents doesn’t end just because a parent remarries. However, a parent’s child support obligation may be adjusted if his or her remarriage also includes the addition of a new baby. New Hampshire allows a parent’s child support obligation to be adjusted when new children are born.

Either parent can request an adjustment to child support as long as there has been a substantial change in circumstances. Nevertheless, prior child support obligations remain in effect until a judge issues a new support order.

Remarriage affects child support differently in every case. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand your new relationship’s potential impact on child support. If you have questions about the effects of remarriage on child support,  contact a local family law attorney for advice.

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