When you divorce, a New York court likely will order child support as part of your divorce decree. The amount awarded is a percentage of your and your spouse's combined income, based on the number of children who need support. Unlike alimony or custody, child support is not likely to change if you remarry unless your income changes.
Parents are legally obligated to provide support for their biological children until the child reaches adulthood or is emancipated. Since remarriage doesn’t sever the legal bond between parent and child, remarriage does not terminate a parent’s support obligation. Further, spouses do not have a legal obligation to support their stepchildren, so your new spouse does not have to provide support to children from your prior marriage.
In New York, child support amounts will only change if there has been a significant increase or decrease in a parent’s income or other significant change in circumstances, so remarriage, by itself, typically has no effect on child support. However, if your remarriage also brings with it a job change for you with a significant change in income, you might be eligible to have your child support amount changed.
New York courts don’t just look at the income you actually earn. If your income appears unreasonably low, they may impute income to you, calculating your support obligation as if you actually earned more income than you reported. Thus, if you choose to stop working because you remarried, the court may calculate your child support obligation as if you still earned an income.
If you believe your child support amount should change, you must file a modification petition in New York Family Court. Child support does not change automatically. Under a law passed in 2010, a parent can request a modification if at least three years have passed since the last child support order was issued or if one parent’s income has changed by at least 15 percent.