It’s official. You and your ex-wife/ex-husband have split. Your divorce is final. The marriage is over, and you are free to begin life anew.
And you have. You’ve been dating. You’ve met someone you want to marry. You proposed. She’s accepted. Happiness, right? Right, except for one thing, your ex is threatening to go after your new spouse’s money and other assets when you remarry in a bid to secure more child support. Can she do that? And if she can, how do you protect your new love’s money and your own?
If you are paying child support in New York, you may already know that the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) controls how courts award child support. The CSSA guidelines determine how the judge, hearing your child support case, calculated both your and your ex’s combined income and then multiplied that number by a specified percentage (based on the number of children) to determine the total amount of child support obligation. That judge then apportioned that total obligation between both parents based on a ratio of their individual income compared to their combined total income. Other variables, including calculations for additional support, may impact the overall child support award.
If I remarry, could that change my child support obligation?
Possibly. If there is a change in circumstances. But the short answer is no. Remarriage does not entitle you or your ex to an automatic modification of child support. Nor is your new spouse obligated to support your children from a prior marriage or relationship. This means your ex cannot go after your fiancée’s money.
If my new spouse and I have a child, will that change my child support obligation?
The law is evolving. But first and foremost, the court aims to act in the best interest of your children. All of your children.
If you file for a reduction in your share of child support payments because you and your new spouse have just had a child together, you may not get the result you seek. The court may consider any new children’s needs and may potentially adjust your previous child support obligations. But that determination is again based on math as well as other factors the court may take into account in calculating child support.
The CSSA only permits a judge to consider your “new child” argument for reducing child support payments if doing otherwise would harm your new child.
However, in this instance, your new spouse’s income will be relevant to your modification request. If your new combined income is equal to or greater than the combined income of you and your ex, you are unlikely to obtain a reduction in support.
So, my new spouse’s assets are protected from my ex?
Yes, but there are no absolutes. In law, as in life, very few things are black and white. While your ex cannot go after your fiancée’s or soon-to-be spouse’s assets because that is her property, not yours, she can certainly make your lives massively uncomfortable. The same holds true for ex-husbands, angry that their ex-wives are remarrying. Again, however, if you are the parent paying child support to your ex-husband, the obligation is yours, not your fiancé’s.
Your new spouse is not legally responsible for paying child support for your children from an earlier relationship. Of course, if you comingle finances, and some of the monies in that joint account go towards paying your child support obligations, then, in effect, your new spouse is contributing to your child support payments. But there is a big difference between that and an argument that your fiancé or new spouse is legally obligated to pay any child support for your existing children.
Is my ex making empty threats?
Yes. But that may not stop the vitriol – a matter worth discussing with an experienced divorce/family law attorney. In the meantime, congratulations on your pending marriage. Everyone deserves happiness and to keep their assets safe from prying ex-spouses. Nonetheless, if your ex continues to threaten you or your new spouse for more child support, let’s talk. I’m Dan Stock, and you can call me at 475-232-4105 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.