“Is my new spouse’s income taken into account for purposes of calculating child support?”
While we find many of California’s family laws to be commonsensical, this issue is not. Unfortunately, the legal answer to this question often ends up causing one parent serious frustration and a feeling of injustice.
For the purposes of calculating guideline child support, a new spouse’s income may not be considered by a court when establishing or modifying a child support order. An “extraordinary case” is often very difficult to prove. Such a case would exist only “where excluding that income would lead to extreme and severe hardship to any child subject to the child support award.”
Is the new spouse’s income considered at all?
The income of the step-parent is considered for the limited purpose of determining the tax liability of the payee parent.
What’s the reasoning here? Since the new spouse’s income may push the payor parent to a higher tax bracket, the payor spouse actually takes home less money from their own earnings. And, since guideline child support takes into account net income, this may result in a decreased amount of child support owed to the payee.
Here’s another example. Let’s say you are the payor parent. Your ex remarries a wealthy spouse and seeks to modify support.
You may actually have to pay more support to the custodial parent now. Why? They are now in a higher tax bracket by virtue of their high-earning spouse. Therefore, they theoretically have less net income (after-tax income) of their own.
In other words, the payee parent gets to have their cake and eat it, too. A tough pill to swallow for many non-custodial parents.
Depending on the facts of your case, other laws may apply to your circumstances that allow you to modify your support obligation. Schedule your free 15-minute consultation for more information.