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Divorce FAQ

What if I remarry and my new spouse makes good money. Does that change the amount of child support I receive?

No, the child support is based off the incomes of the parents, not their spouses. If one of the parties has a significant change in income or circumstances (maybe a new disability or a substantial raise/promotion at work, for example), a party may file a Petition for Modification of Child Support. Basically, the courts will run the financial information again and make adjustments as needed. To open a modification of child support case, the child support amount must change by $50 or 15%, whichever is more. It can be difficult to tell if you’ve met this burden, but your attorney can advise you on the next steps if you think you have the grounds to modify child support.

I just separated from my spouse but we have not even retained attorneys for a divorce. Do I have to pay support now?

Legally, no. But technically, yes. You will be responsible for paying child support and alimony (if awarded) from the date of physical separation, meaning the date you moved into separate residences. If you make substantially more than your spouse there is a good chance you will have to pay child support. Although you may not know the correct amount at this point, it is always a smart financial decision to start paying some amount so when the court reviews child support, you have shown your intention to care for the children, and you have lessened the burden of arrears you will be responsible for.

Take for example a father who is ordered to pay $500 a month for child support and has never paid. Now, a year later, father is responsible for $500 a month and $6,000 in arrears. That’s a big chunk of change most people do not have on the spot. The good news is arrears can be paid over time, not in one chunk, but it often overwhelms many parents and increases the burden of child support. For example, the Judge may order you pay $100 extra each month until the $6,000 is paid off. On the flip side, if you have paid since the date of separation, your arrears amount will be less, or you may have paid too much and that amount will count towards future payments. So, either way, paying child support immediately upon separation can be helpful.

Another common error we see is a parent making payments in cash. Always pay by check or electronic transfer and keep track of your payments as evidence. There is nothing worse than being ordered to pay arrears that you have already paid but cannot prove.

I love my husband and know he will always take care of our child. I do not want the court to force him to pay child support.

Sometimes parents forget that child support really has nothing to do with the parents. It is not meant to be a reward or punishment, although many see it that way. Child support is mandated by the State as a way to make sure the child is taken care of and does not become a burden on the State. For example, if a mother could opt out of child support, she may then not be able to make ends meet and need food stamps, thus the State is now responsible for her child. From a public policy standpoint, it is clear why child support exists.

Furthermore, during the process of a divorce many decisions are emotionally driven. Unfortunately, your loving ex-husband who cares for the child now may eventually remarry and have more children. To take it further, say his child has a special need. The father makes a finite amount of money and the father may decide, with the best intentions, that the child with special needs has more important financial needs than his previous healthy child. Unfortunately, no one can predict the future and court-ordered child support helps prepare for changes and establish stability for the child at issue.

Whether you are the payor or payee of child support, try to remember to respect its purpose.

To learn more, please contact our office. We’d love to speak with you!

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