Here’s a common scenario to consider – a couple divorces and agrees upon a figure for child or spousal support. Somewhere down the line, either the payer or recipient re-marries. What happens to the agreed upon figure for support?
Working in family law, we regularly encounter both sides of this equation. After all, parents and guardians usually move on with their lives after the relationship that produced their children has ended. The recipient of the support is often worried their new partner’s income will disqualify them from receiving support. While the new partner often seeks reassurance, they aren’t on the hook for support.
In this week’s blog, we’ll remove the uncertainty around this common family law question.
Child Support and a New Relationship
In most cases, the income of a parent’s new spouse is not relevant to the payment of child support. At no point during the relationship will a payor’s new spouse be asked to pay child support. In fact, the new spouse does not inherit the child support obligation in the event the payor dies. However, if the recipient and new spouse separate, and the new spouse had contributed to the care of the children during the relationship, support could be sought from them as stepparents.
When the BC courts are calculating the base amount of child support a parent must pay, they will only look at the parent’s income. The new partner isn’t considered part of the equation.
It isn’t a family law blog without us mentioning there are some circumstances that work to muddy the waters. In some specific instances, the new spouse’s income will be taken into consideration.
Undue Hardship Claims
Section 10 of the Child Support Guidelines within the Canadian Divorce Act allow for parties to make the case that the base amount of support agreed upon is too low or too high and would cause undue hardship if it was paid.
In these instances, the court will examine the standard of living of each parent’s household, rather than their income alone. This factors in the total expenses and total income of the household in question, including the new spouse’s income. While they enter as a factor in this instance, they still aren’t liable to pay any support.
Income in Excess of $150,000
When the payor of support earns over $150,000 a year, Section 4 of the Child Support Guidelines calls for a formula with a discretionary component that is to be used to calculate the amount of support due. The income of the new partner may become relevant in this analysis, as the households’ lifestyles and resources may be considered.
In Section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines, the sharing of special or extraordinary expenses between the divorced parents is covered. When the court is figuring out how much each parent should contribute, the court takes into account the “means of the spouses,” including the financial contribution of the new spouse.
Again, the new spouse isn’t obliged to share in these expenses, but their income does enter the equation.
Find Out More
Westside Family Law can assist with any legal questions you may have surrounding spousal support. Contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.