Here at the Ault Firm, our Salt Lake City child support attorney has recently received a question that reads, “How does remarriage affect my child support payments?” One of our readers wrote:
“My ex-wife (and the parent of my child) recently remarried a man who earns about 5x more than I do. Since her remarriage, my ex-spouse has quit her job and her new husband clearly provides for both her and our child.
The reason I am asking this is because paying child support every month is a bit of a struggle for my budget. Clearly, the child support money that I send make no difference in the standard of living of my child, as my ex-wife’s new husband can provide for them both. For me, paying less in child support would make a huge difference for my own standard of living. Thanks in advance. Matt.”
Matt, thank you for the question. Unfortunately, child support in Utah is one of the most misunderstood legal issues in Salt Lake City and all across the state. We brought our best Salt Lake City child support lawyer to answer your question…
So, how does remarriage affect child support?
Luckily for you, you could seek a child support modification given an obvious and “substantial change in circumstances” in your case. Under Utah’s child support laws – and in particular, its “Use of ordered child support” provisions – you can petition the court asking to change the amount of your existing child support order.
There are many factors that justify altering the amount of child support payments under the “change in circumstances” provision, but in your particular case, you would have to cite “material changes in the relative wealth or assets of the parties” as the substantial change in circumstances to modify child support.
But it is NOT so easy… Legal issues that you may face
However, it is not as easy as it may seem. In cases like these, you would need to be represented by a Salt Lake City child custody attorney in order to be able to overcome all legal issues that may arise along the way. In 90 percent of all cases when one of the parents – mostly, the father – is asking to decrease the amount of child support payments, the other parent will challenge his or her decision and hire a lawyer of their own.
What you need to understand is that no matter how substantial that change in circumstances has been, no parent is willing to say “no” to the extra money that come from the other parent (even if those money are not actually being spent on the child or his/her needs). Moreover, if the receiving parent holds a grudge against the paying parent (they have through a divorce, after all), he/she would not be interested in modifying a child support order.
Another challenge that you will most likely face when seeking a child support modification if your ex-spouse remarries and his/her spouse is more financially secure than you is that even if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, stepparents have no legal obligation to support their stepchildren.
Even if the stepparent provides for the child financially, there is no way of proving it unless you hire a private investigator who will find evidence that the stepparent is voluntarily taking care of your child. Another thing a Salt Lake City child support attorney can help you with is finding proof that the money you are paying in child support are not being used on your child.
The bottom line is that it is indeed possible to modify your child support by proving a substantial change in circumstances after your ex-spouse remarries. But you will most likely need a skilled child support lawyer in order to build a strong case and be successful in and outside of court.
Contact the Ault Firm to get a free consultation about your particular case. Let our attorneys answer your questions about divorce, child support and child custody in Utah. Call our offices at 801-539-9000 or complete this contact form today.