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How a New Child or Marriage May Affect Support

Sept. 29, 2021

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that as of May 2020, there were 12.9 million custodial parents in the United States caring for 21.9 million children under 21 years of age. Of those 12.9 million custodial parents, 79.9 percent were mothers. Going somewhat against the national average, Tennessee reports that single fathers run 25 percent of all households.Mother holding baby

What happens when ex-spouses who are either paying or receiving child or spousal support remarry or have another child? Do the payments go up or down? Cease altogether? Is the stepparent suddenly responsible for the child whose custodial parent he or she marries?

These are all great questions. The answer when it comes to child support is “probably not.” It will likely stay the same. For spousal support, the answer can vary depending on the financial benefits of the marriage.

If you’re located in or around Memphis, Tennessee, or nearby in Germantown, Cordova, or Covington, and you’re confused about modifications to child support or spousal support, contact S. A. Jones Law.

Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law, has more than 20 years of experience in family law. He will not only happily answer your questions, but also help you pursue any modification that you feel is warranted.

How Child Support Is Determined in Tennessee

Tennessee follows guidelines established by the Department of Human Services in determining child support payments. The state uses what is called the “Income Shares Model” in setting the payment amount, with the underlying goal that children should receive the same amount of financial support after divorce as they would have had their parents never divorced.

Tennessee even provides a downloadable Child Support Calculator so parents can predetermine what their financial responsibilities might be.

The calculator takes several factors into account, including:

  • The number of days the child will spend with each parent

  • Both parents’ total gross income

  • Childcare costs

  • Insurance payments on behalf of the child

Child support payments can be modified, and either parent can request a modification at any time. Circumstances that can trigger a modification include:

  • Change in the employment status of one or both parents

  • Major increase or decrease in the income of either or both parents

  • Change in the financial needs of the child

  • The child turns 18, when by law child support ceases (unless the child is still in high school)

Remarriage and Child Support

Child support is just that – support for the child, typically paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. If the custodial parent remarries, the noncustodial parent is still obliged to pay support for the child. The stepparent does not assume financial responsibility for the child. The amount of the payment is likely not to change even if the custodial parent marries into wealth, and the noncustodial parent feels it unjust to continue the payment.

What if the noncustodial parent remarries? The answer is pretty much the same. The new spouse has no financial obligation for the child of the previous marriage, nor does his or her income factor into calculating a modification of child support payments.

The custodial parent could argue that the other parent’s financial obligations have been lessened by the addition of another income to help cover expenses, but unless the noncustodial parent’s income directly rises, the court – though it has some wiggle room – will likely adhere to the calculator’s tabulation.

Remarriage and Spousal Support

Spousal support, or alimony, is generally awarded to allow one spouse to get the training or experience necessary to increase their earning potential. It is also often awarded to allow the recipient to continue living as he or she did during the marriage with no significant drop-off in lifestyle. It can be awarded temporarily or permanently.

If the recipient spouse remarries, however, there will no doubt be another source of income coming into the picture. This additional income could trigger a modification – or even a termination – of the existing spousal support order.

Contact Shannon A. Jones for Family Law Guidance

Child support is almost always a contentious subject. The noncustodial parent obligated to pay the support probably considers it disproportionate, while the custodial parent probably feels it is not enough. That’s why the courts follow strict guidelines. Though they can factor in other considerations, they generally follow the established guidelines.

If you feel that your child support deserves a modification, or that your ex-spouse’s remarriage calls for terminating spousal support, contact Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law. He will work with you closely to examine all the factors and changes that may warrant modification or termination, and then will help you work through the legal system to press your case.