While alimony payments to a spouse are unlikely to continue after a supported spouse’s remarriage, the same is not true of child support payments. Under Rhode Island law, a former spouse must continue his financial obligation to his children whether or not either spouse has remarried. However, there are instances when remarriage could change the amount of these payments.
Courts May Modify Child Support Orders Based on Remarriage
The Rhode Island family courts use certain guidelines to determine how much child support a parent must pay, but they are allowed to order a different amount of support based on all relevant factors in a case. Remarriage may be considered relevant to a support order, especially if the new marriage includes:
- The birth of new children. In the past, children in a new marriage were not considered a valid reason for changing a support order for children from a prior relationship. Today, Rhode Island courts may consider the increased costs of new children when deciding on an amount of child support.
- Increased expenses. Marriage can increase a couple’s income, but it can also increase their expenses. A parent who remarries and takes on shared debts (such as house and car payments) or provides care for a new spouse with a disability may see a change in the amount of income available for child support.
- A new spouse’s income. Although Rhode Island courts agree that a new spouse has no duty to support children from a prior relationship, they have ruled that a new spouse’s income may be considered in some cases. For example, if a parent paying child support remarries, the new spouse is likely contributing financially to household bills, utilities, and groceries. This essentially causes an increase in income for the parent and leaves more of his income available for child support.
In order to change the amount of child support after remarriage, a parent must petition the court for a modification of the order. It’s up to the court to decide whether remarriage has resulted in a significant change in circumstances needed to make the modification. If you need help with your divorce, custody, or child support order, fill out our online contact form today to set up your initial consultation with a family law attorney at Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum.