Stepparents and Child Support in California

Under California law, parents are required to support their children whether they are married to the child’s other parent or not. In almost every divorce, one parent is ordered to pay child support to the other parent. It’s common knowledge that the “amount” of child support is based off of the noncustodial parent’s income. But what if the paying parent remarries, can the remarriage impact their child support obligation?

When parents remarry, the new marriage doesn’t automatically impact one spouse’s child support obligation from their previous relationship. That’s because stepparents are not usually responsible for supporting other people’s children.

Instead, biological parents are responsible for supporting their children. However, that doesn’t rule stepparents out in California. There are some circumstances where a stepparent’s assets or financial resources can be used to pay child support for their stepchild. Continue reading to learn how this can happen.

When Can Remarriage Impact Child Support?

Let’s say you’re the noncustodial parent and you pay child support. If you remarry, it should not affect your child support obligation because in most cases, stepparents are not expected to support their new spouses’ children from previous relationships, unless of course, the stepparent adopts the child.

A California judge is not supposed to look at your new husband’s or wife’s income, but if your child is experiencing extreme hardship because he or she is not having their basic needs met, or if you are intentionally living off a reduced income or if you are purposely staying unemployed and relying on your spouse, then a judge can demand to see your new spouse’s W-2s and 1099 tax documents.

California is a community property state, which means both spouses are equally entitled to the marital assets. If one spouse doesn’t pay child support, the court can go ahead and issue an order against the couple’s community property, however, the court cannot enforce an order against the new spouse’s current job earnings.

If you need attorney representation in a child support case, contact Cutter & Lax today.