How Marriage or Remarriage Can Affect Child Support Payments

Bride and groom's hands touching on table

Nerida McMurray Photography / Getty Images

You may wonder how marriage and child support impact one another, especially if you or your ex plans to remarry at some point. The following frequently asked questions about marriage and child support will help you gather the facts you need and begin to plan for how a new marriage could impact your family's current child support arrangement.

May Affect Child Support
  • Additional household expenses

  • Increase or decrease in income

  • Joint tax return refund may be confiscated (new spouse can petition return of half)

Does Not Affect Child Support
  • Additional children with new spouse

  • Fact of remarriage

  • New spouse's income

Existing Child Support Orders

Generally speaking, when a parent remarries, the new marriage does not affect previous child support orders. The only income that should be included when calculating child support payments is that of the biological parents. The income of either parent's new spouse should not be considered when estimating how much child support will be received or paid.

Back Child Support Payments

When a parent who owes child support remarries, the new spouse's income cannot be tapped for the past due to child support payments. While the court can garnish the wages of the child support obligor, the court cannot look to a new spouse's income to satisfy a child support judgment.

However, the new spouse can voluntarily offer to assist with the payments of old or current child support payments if he or she wishes to provide assistance. While this cannot be mandated by the court, it is certainly not prohibited for a new spouse to help out in this way.

Joint Tax Return Confiscation for Back Payments

In general, the government can and regularly does confiscate a child support obligor's tax return to satisfy owed child support payments.

If two spouses file income tax returns together, in the form of a joint return, then the court may confiscate the entire return. The spouse who does not owe child support can petition the IRS for a return of his/her half of the tax return.

Requests for a Child Support Modification 

Your ex-partner cannot request a child support modification based solely on the fact that you've remarried. However, he or she can request a child support modification, if warranted, based on an increase or decrease in income. In addition, some states restrict the frequency of child support modification reviews and will only revisit an existing child support arrangement every three years.

Additional Household Expenses

The court will consider additional expenses that a child support obligor is responsible for as a result of a child support modification request.

For example, a parent paying child support may have an increased amount of household expenses as a result of the marriage, which may reduce his/her's child support obligation. Parents should be prepared to present evidence of expenses at a child support hearing.

Children With New Spouse

Children from a previous relationship are considered to have first priority for child support purposes. The court will not consider additional children from a new marriage but will consider additional expenses attributed to new children (i.e. childcare or medical expenses), paid by the biological parent.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Office of Child Support Enforcement. As the noncustodial parent, what happens if I have remarried and part of the income tax refund belongs to my new spouse?.

  2. Office of Child Support Enforcement. Changing a Child Support Order. Updated August 2017.