Once a child support order is entered, a party can petition the court to increase support if the other party’s income has substantially increased. The issue often becomes that one or both spouses have remarried and have combined income and expenses and even file taxes jointly. One chief concern we hear is whether the new spouse’s income will be used to determine child support.
The answer is yes and no. Usually, a new spouse’s income cannot be used to calculate child support. It is not the responsibility of the new spouse to maintain their spouse’s children. However, a spouse’s income can be used in certain situations, such as: 1) the parent’s income is difficult to ascertain, and 2) the parent is being less than candid about his income.
Once a party files a Motion to Modify Child Support, the party must fill out a financial statement called a “Disclosure Statement”, or what often has other names in other counties. The statement will list out the party’s income and expenses. The result is that the parent will either have a certain amount left over every month, or the parent is in the red every month. If the parent is in the red, especially if that amount is significant, a judge will then inquire as to how that parent makes up for that deficiency per month. The answer is usually 1) a relative 2) a girlfriend, boyfriend or new spouse, 3) credit cards) or 4) the disclosure statement was filled out incorrectly.
If the answer is 1 or 2, a Judge can then impute that deficiency as income to the parent and consider that a gift from the relative or new spouse. That amount will then be used to determine the parent’s net income for child support purposes.
As a result, it is very important that you fill out the Disclosure Statement to the best of your ability. Your attorney should review the Disclosure Statement carefully to make sure that it is filled out correctly and that the information will not be used against you in court.