When a couple finalizes a divorce in California, the court may order one spouse to pay the other alimony and/or child support. But what happens when one or both former spouses get remarried? The following article is an overview of how remarriage affects child support and spousal support in California.
Alimony & Remarriage in California
When a supported spouse—the one who receives spousal support—remarries in California, the paying spouse’s responsibility to pay future alimony automatically ends. This means the paying spouse does not have to obtain a court order to terminate alimony.
The supported spouse must disclose the remarriage to the other spouse. If a supported spouse fails to notify the paying spouse of the wedding, the paying spouse must file a motion to terminate support and the court will subsequently order the supported spouse to refund excess payments.
If a supported spouse is owed a lump-sum alimony payment, transfers of property, or overdue spousal support, the paying spouse is still obligated to provide such payments after the wedding date. Additionally, alimony may continue after remarriage if both divorced spouses agree that it will not impact spousal support.
On the other hand, if a supported spouse starts “cohabitating” with a significant other, the paying spouse may ask the court to either reduce or even terminate spousal support. The paying spouse is given “rebuttable presumption,” which means the court will presume that reducing or terminating alimony is appropriate unless the supported spouse can prove he/she needs to continue receiving spousal support despite living with another person.
Cohabitation means living with someone and the relationship is more than just a roommate. However, even if a supported spouse starts living with a roommate, the paying spouse may seek a court order to modify and reduce alimony payments.
Child Support & Remarriage in CA
Both biological parents are obligated to financially support their child – not the child’s stepparents. Therefore, judges in California generally do not take into account a new spouse’s income when determining or modifying child support.
However, there are several exceptions to this rule. For example, if a child’s biological parents do not make enough money to adequately support his/her needs, but the mother’s new spouse is significantly well off, then the court may consider the mother’s available funds through her husband to decide on child support. Also, if the mother voluntarily becomes unemployed and relies on her new spouse for financial support, then the court may take the new spouse’s income into consideration.
Keep in mind, if remarriage leads to more children, parents cannot use expenses related to voluntarily starting a new family as a reason to reduce child support payments from a previous marriage.
If you are interested in modifying or terminating child support or spousal support in Los Angeles, contact TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP today at (310) 455-8364 to let our experienced attorneys protect your rights and best interests. Our legal team consists of three Board-Certified Family Law Specialists!