Can a Stepparent’s Income be Used to Determine Child Support Payment?
Following a divorce, chances are high that either you or your spouse will re-marry. However, if you and your ex-spouse had children, and there is a child support order involved, is it possible for the custodial parent to obtain an increase in the original child support award based on the new spouse's income?
Calculation of Illinois Child Support Payment
The Court determines the value of a monthly child support an obligor (the parent ordered to pay child support) must pay based on a child support guidelines adopted by the Illinois legislature. Although there may be slight variations, a typical child support award is a percentage of an obligor’s net income, with the percentage being determined by the number of children he or she is financially obligated to support.
The child support guidelines permit the Court to modify a payment amount if it is determined that the amount calculated would not be in a child’s best interest. When making such a determination, the Court must consider the following:
- The financial resources and needs of both the children and the custodial parent;
- A child’s standard of living if his or her parents had not divorced;
- The physical and emotional condition of the children;
- The educational needs of the children; and
- The financial resources and needs of the obligor.
In the past, the Illinois Courts have held that the income of a new spouse could not be considered when determining the appropriate amount of child support the obligor must pay. Hence, when a husband remarried, his ex-wife could not seek to modify the amount of his monthly child support payment simply because his monthly income had just doubled, due to his new wife.
The theory was that although stepparents may play a role in helping their new spouse raise the children, they had no legal obligation to financially support their stepchildren.
But in 2000, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that a stepparent’s income could be considered when making an award of child support. The Court noted that the use of the term “resources” in the guidelines indicated an intent by the Illinois Legislature to allow the Court to consider all of an obligor’s potential resources, and not just his or her income—particularly where an obligor and his or her new spouse commingle their assets to pay for family expenses, rather than keep separate accounts.
So while Courts are permitted to consider a new spouse’s income when determining the amount of child support an obligor must pay, it is not an automatic change. Instead, this is one of several factors the Court can consider as a reason to increase an award amount.
If your spouse has recently remarried, you should speak with a child support attorney to discuss the possibility of seeking a child support modification based on a stepparent’s income.
Palatine Child Support Modification Attorney
Child support modifications can be made anytime following entry of an initial support order provided there is a change of circumstances justifying the modification.
Palatine family law attorney Nicholas W. Richardson has more than 10 years experience handling Palatine child support and child support modification cases. Contact The Law Office of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C. to discuss whether you are entitled to a modification of your current child support award based on changed circumstances.