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After a divorce, one or both spouses will inevitably go on to have new relationships, and you may be wondering if remarriage will impact child support payments. In Washington, remarriage in and of itself is not a factor for modifying a child support order. However, some situations may support a modification.
A new spouse typically does not have a duty to provide support to a stepchild, but there are some ways they can still impact child support payments. Primarily because once a new spouse takes a child into their home, they assume the role of a parent, which can correlate to a duty to support that child. Under state law, a new spouse’s income cannot be included in calculating child support. However, if their income is being used to pay for basic necessities such as rent or groceries, their income can be factored into a request for modification. That’s because the parent’s net income to support their child increases since it is not going towards those expenses. As a result, a new spouse’s income can be considered in a request for child support modification, but it cannot be the only reason for the request.
For example, let’s say you are the custodial parent, meaning you primarily have physical custody of your child. If you remarry and your new spouse’s income provides significant financial support to your child, your ex-spouse can petition the courts to have child support payments reduced as long as it is not the sole reason for doing so. Whether the Court will grant their request varies by case, but it is uncommon since the Court recognizes that a child’s legal parents are financially responsible, not stepparents.
The Court will use state guidelines to determine child support, but it is permitted for the Court to deviate from those if necessary. Children from another relationship whom a parent has a duty to support can be considered in a child support order or modification. The reason is that a parent’s income should benefit the needs of all their children. For example, if you are the custodial parent with one child and your ex-spouse remarries and has a new child, the court may reduce your child support payments because your ex-spouse has a financial obligation to support both children. To find out more about how a new child would impact your specific case, speak to our Spokane family law attorneys.
Child support payments can only be changed when the court receives a formal request for modification then gives approval at a hearing. To begin the process, one parent must file the necessary forms with the court, found on the Washington State Office of the Administrator for the Court’s website. Once filed, the other parent must be served a copy of the petition and typically has 20 days to respond. After the response, a hearing can be scheduled for a judge to grant or deny the modification. If there is a failure to respond to the petition, the court may issue a default judgment at the hearing. Working with our Spokane child support attorney can provide expert legal assistance through the process of modifying a Washington child support court order.