Can I Go After My Ex-Husband's New Wife's Income for More Child Support in California?
By Heather Frances J.D.
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As part of a California divorce decree, the court generally issues a child support order, which is based on your living situation and incomes at the time of the divorce. If your ex-husband remarries, you probably won’t be able to successfully pursue a portion of his new wife’s income except in limited circumstances.
Laws on Remarriage
California’s Family Code, section 4057.5, governs child support adjustments when an ex-spouse remarries. The new spouse’s income cannot be considered in relation to child support, except in rare cases when excluding that income would lead to “extreme and severe hardship” for the child. For example, if your ex-spouse quits his job when he remarries and is thus without any income to pay any child support, the court could consider that situation to be too extreme and severe to exclude his new wife’s income from child support calculations.
Increased Net Income
Even though your ex-spouse’s new wife’s income is rarely considered in child support calculations, his remarriage may increase his net income slightly, thereby increasing your child support payments. For example, if his tax filing status changes in a way that increases his net income even slightly, he may owe more in child support.
If your ex-spouse has more children, regardless of whether he is married, your child support may change since California considers additional dependents when calculating child support. Though the court could order your ex-spouse to pay more of his income to support his children, the amount paid for each child would likely decrease.
You or your ex-spouse can ask for a modification to your child support amount by contacting your child support agency or filing a petition for modification, usually in the court that issued your most recent child support order. The request will only be considered if your circumstances have changed significantly since your last order was entered. Examples of changed circumstances include increases or decreases in your income or your ex-spouse’s income, changes in your custody arrangement or your family size changes. After your child support agency or the court reviews your request, you may receive a modification even if your child support order will only change by 20 percent or $50, whichever is less.
- State of California: Legislative Counsel: California Family Code: Section 4050-4076
- Sacramento County: Division of Child Support Services: Child Support Amount
- Law Offices of Warren R. Shiell: California Child and Spousal Support: New Mate Income
- California Department of Child Support Services: Changing Your Child Support Amount
- California Department of Child Support Services: Child Support Handbook
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.