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Host: What happens when a divorced couple remarries someone else when it comes to child support? Does that new spouse’s income count as it comes to paying your ex? Jonathan Marks with The Marks Law Firm is here this morning to explain what happened in a recent case. Good morning to you. The law is a little bit grey when it comes to this but this case was in the western district. What happened with that particular one?
JM: In that case, a couple have got divorced a handful of years ago. Mom had a slightly larger income than dad by about a thousand dollars a month. Dad remarried, his new spouse has a seven thousand dollar a month job. Dad’s income goes up a little bit. Mom is now living with her fiance, she has an increase in income of about three grand a month and dad decides it’s time to go back to court and try to revisit both child custody and child support.
Host: So what did the Western District rule?
JM: In this particular case, they changed child custody to a week to week schedule. Seven days on, seven days off. What they did was they looked at the child support aspect of it and made a determination as to whether or not something has changed. So in the original divorce case, the court found that there were no child support to be paid by the parent to the other. In this particular instance, the dad wanted to increase child support because mom’s income was so much higher. But instead, the court took a look at not just what mom’s increase in income was but also what was the new contributions from the new wife in dad’s new household. After making that determination decided there was no change in dad’s circumstance because his new wife made so much more income and contributed to their household.
Host: So they were looking at overall the whole financial picture?
JM: Usually in these particular types of cases the court is looking at total household income. When they’re looking at things like an attorney fee award not so much in child support because the child support area we run what’s called a Form 14, a child support calculation worksheet, we’re really just looking at the income of the parents. In this circumstance, because the person who moved the modification had a change in their household income that was so large there was never an increase done before then and before he got remarried. They came in at a status quo of no child support and was there really a change in a two household status. Here there wasn’t because fiance and mom along with dad and his new wife had about ten to twelve thousand a month in each of their households.
Host: When you’re looking at that, how much is the person who brings the modification, in this case the father. When they have that burden approved they have to come in and say this is why I want that modification.
JM: Absolutely. That was key in this particular circumstance is when dad was motioning the court to make a modification they have to show it’s a substantial and continuing change in circumstance. The increase in his ex wife’s income, that was substantial and continuing. Was it a continuing circumstance that was different from where you were at the time you came in? That was the key fact that the court found that because your household income is so much higher and you’re not having to pay as much as your household expenses, you’re being covered by your new wife. You’re really asking for something inadequately by asking your former spouse to continue to contribute to that household.
Host: It’s an interesting case for sure.
JM: It’s interesting but it’s also very confusing. But it’s something now we have to take into consideration and see what happens. Most things on child support maintenance cases are always evolving and it’s really important to see what your facts are before your bring a case before the court.
Host: Every case is different.
JM: Every case is unique.
Host: Jonathan Marks. Thank you so much and we appreciate your time. For more information on The Marks Law Firm just head to STLMoms tab.