|Changes in marital finances affects child support payments|
By Ray Donato
While having children can be the most rewarding experience in life, paying for them may be a completely different story. Regardless of the condition of the economy, it is only natural to look for income streams that will facilitate a life lived in the best way possible. Introducing the care of children to the equation makes the necessity of sustaining those income streams all the more critical.
The law has clear guidelines on the calculations of child support based on the amount of income of the two parents combined. Identifying what qualifies as income is as complicated in child support as it is with taxes and requires just as much diligence and tenacity to arrive at the correct number. Enter a new spouse into the equation and the complexity may skyrocket.
In the most common occurrence, simply remarrying does not in and of itself generate a change in child support. The problem is that there are variables that can include the new spouse’s income in the calculation. The new spouse aside, the basic formulas for child support follow a simple format: Income – deductions. Once each parent’s net income is established the court will determine the amount of the income that would have gone to the child should the parents have stayed together based on the guidelines according to statute. The nonresidential parent will have to pay a portion of that divided amount based on how much of the total net income was theirs.
A new spouse will not affect the base calculation based on the fact that they have a job alone. There are ways that the spouse will factor into the equation though. The new spouse will become part of the allowable deductions indirectly if you are not careful. One of the allowable deductions for child support is income tax to be paid to the state and federal government. A new spouse is counted as a deduction on a joint return and if the new spouse files separately the amount due the federal government increases. A sly parent can file an income tax showing themselves filing separately and amend their taxes later to fix it. If one of the parties tries to hide income and it can be proven, the judge can assess the new spouses’ income as part of the equation.
In addition to the base calculation, the court will take into consideration the cost of medical and dental insurance, costs related to child doctor visits, and child care. A new spouse in the equation allows the party to shuffle bills around to reduce the calculation obligation if nobody is paying attention. Additionally, if the new spouse is a partner with a former spouse in a business, the ability to shuffle money is even easier. Manipulating the income is not difficult to do and for this reason alone hiring a qualified law firm such as Julyen Law is always recommended.
Managing the expected
Unreported income is a problem and using your new spouse to hide money will motivate the judge to take aggressive action against the guilty party. It will never go well. There are other scenarios with a new spouse that are to be expected and the law accounts for. When a new spouse has children there is a scenario that will introduce their income to the equation. If the paying spouse tries to reduce the amount of the obligation ordered by citing the needs of the subsequent children as a reduction issue the new spouse’s income will be reviewed in the modification request.
The law may seem to be black and white when reading a statute but an attorney earns their reputation by seeing the gray areas and lapses in the law that may be oblivious to the casual observer. Issues like child support are of utmost importance considering they directly impact the ability to care for a child. Remarrying after a failed relationship that has produced offspring can be healthy and positive for the stability of the nonresidential parent and can contribute to the welfare of the child during visitations. The new spouse contributions to the child support may not be direct, but the impact on the household is direct because the total available income is reduced.
The motivations to provide for yourself over and above the obligation to pay support for a child that resides in another home can create enormous tension between all the parties involved. In order keep emotion out of the decision-making process and achieve an equitably just outcome hiring an attorney is not just prudent, it is wise. Keeping as much of the income within your household as you can will empower you to act directly towards the issue of previous unions in a manner that is fully in line with what you determine to be in the best interest of the child. Both the obligee and the obligor have a duty to act in the interest of the child, and attorneys on both sides are recommended.
About the author: The writer, Ray Donato, is a family man who has had to deal with the troubles of child support in the past, and writes on the side to help others answering the same questions he has had in the past. If you wish to learn more about Ray you can visit on Google+.
Image: Liftarn/Open Clip Art; US-PD