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How Is Child Support Affected if One Parent Remarries?

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Can Child Support Be Changed if One Parent Remarries?

The answer is: It depends. At first blush, the answer could be no; one parent’s remarriage by itself isn’t grounds for having child support changed. It doesn’t matter if it’s the parent paying child support who may remarry to someone with children from a previous marriage or the parent receiving child support remarrying to someone with a sizable income and no previous children.

However, there are situations when it may be valuable to look into changes.

What Are Grounds for Requesting Changes to Child Support in Arizona?

As with all aspects of family law regarding the care and upbringing of minor children, the first and foremost concern will be the child’s best interests. Arizona’s family laws around child support stipulate that the person requesting the change must be able to demonstrate “a substantial and continuing change of circumstances.” That could potentially include a remarriage. For example, if the parent receiving child support remarries someone with a significantly larger income, doesn’t have children from a prior marriage, and will pay many or most of the household expenses, including the costs for caring for the children, the parent paying the support may request that what they pay be reduced because of the substantial changes. The court could see that the child’s best interests remain front and center.

However, the court generally doesn’t tend to believe a stepparent should be fully financially responsible for a stepchild. Unless the new stepparent clearly indicates they can and are willing to do so, the court is more likely to view the biological parent as being financially responsible. That also factors in if the new stepparent is supporting children from a previous marriage themselves.

How Does Arizona’s Status as a Community Property State Affect Financial Child Support?

It would seem logical that if Arizona is a community property state in which spouses are considered to share property and assets equally, then a parent who remarries would have access to half of their spouse’s assets to support children from a previous marriage.

However, Arizona’s family law generally promotes the idea that biological parents have financial responsibility for their children, seeing it as being in the child’s best interests.

What Are Other Reasons Child Support Can Be Modified in Texas?

There are other reasons changes can be requested, including:

  • Other financial changes. One of the parents loses their job or is demoted, causing their income to decline by a large amount. Or one of the parents receives a sizable increase in income or some sort of financial windfall, such as an inheritance.
  • Changes in the child’s needs. For example, the child may develop new needs that involve financial costs (such as becoming disabled and needing additional medical or therapeutic treatments). This could also include changing the child’s health insurance to a more costly plan or one with a higher deductible.
  • Physical custody changes. If the amount of time each parent has the child in their physical custody (also known as parenting time) is adjusted, financial support may change as well. For example, if the parents had a 50-50 parenting time arrangement, but one parent has a new job that requires much more travel so that the other parent will have the child 75% of the time, the parent with the new job may be required to pay more in child support.
  • Education. Increases in the costs required for the child’s education may result in modified child support.
  • Cost of living. As time passes, the child-raising costs can increase, so the child support payments may need to be adjusted to meet that. This can be related to another requirement, which is that three years should have passed since the court finalized the original child support order. Just having three years pass isn’t itself enough to cause a modification, but if circumstances during the three years cause an increase of at least 20% or $100 in income, the courts may allow it.

What Is the Process to Request Modification of Child Support in Texas?

The first step is to determine if the grounds the request will be based on are going to be enough to satisfy Texas family law courts. It’s highly recommended that you work with an experienced child support attorney to ensure your request has the best possibility of satisfying the courts.

If you do have sufficient grounds, your attorney can help you compile the details you’ll need to prove them. Once filed, a child support specialist will review the case, looking at both parents’ financial situations, what the original support entailed, and why the modification is being requested. As noted above, they’ll likely also expect three years to have passed. Once reviewed, the request is either approved or denied.

Note that Texas doesn’t allow for retroactive child support. That means that if one other begins earning substantially more money in January, but the other parent doesn’t file for a modification until a year later, they won’t receive a year’s worth of back child support when the order is modified.

What Should I Do if I Need Help with Child Support?

Call the Turner Law Firm as soon as possible at 480-618-1221 to set up a consultation. As discussed above, one parent’s remarriage itself isn’t necessarily grounds for changing child support. Still, there may be other factors that could justify revisiting already-established child support or support that’s currently being negotiated. We will work toward the best possible outcomes for you.

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