‘Is my new spouse’s income taken into account for purposes of calculating child support?’
While we find that many of California’s family laws are commonsensical, this issue is not. Unfortunately, the legal answer often ends up causing one parent serious frustration and a feeling of injustice.
For 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 oftentimes very difficult to prove and exists only ‘where excluding that income would lead to extreme and severe hardship to any child subject to the child support award.’
Now, the income of the step-parent is considered for the limited purpose of determining the tax liability of the payee parent. 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. Since guideline child support takes into account net income, this may result in a decrease in the amount of child support owed to the payee.
Here’s another example. You are the payor parent. Your ex remarries a wealthy spouse. Your ex seeks to modify support. You may actually have to pay more support to the custodial parent since s/he is now in a higher tax bracket (by virtue of her high earning spouse) and therefore theoretically has a less ‘net’ (after-tax) income of her own. In other words, the payee parent gets to have her/his cake and eat it too. A tough pill to swallow for many non-custodial parents.
Depending on the facts of your case, there may be other laws that apply to your circumstances, allowing you to modify your support obligation. Schedule your free 15-minute consultation for more information.