Can Living With a New Partner Affect Child Support Payments?

Can Living With a New Partner Affect Child Support Payments?

Can Living With a New Partner Affect Child Support Payments?

What happens when you’re paying child support but planning to live or cohabitate with a new partner? Can living with a new partner affect your child support payments? These are all critical questions to ask in this situation. Keep reading to familiarize yourself with what could happen in these scenarios so that you can better prepare for this situation.

What Happens if You’re Not Marrying the New Partner?

In the state of Washington, the court will recognize the child’s legal parents as the ones solely responsible for financially supporting the child. This will not include step-parents or any partner you cohabitate with because they are not legally obligated to care for the child. So, if a new partner lives with you, this will probably not affect your child support payments.

However, you must be mindful of this situation because your ex-spouse could petition the courts for a modification if there is a substantial change in your financial circumstances due to cohabitation. This is not likely to happen because the new partner is not obligated to care for the child, and it’s difficult to prove that cohabitation results in a substantial change to your finances unless you combine your assets with your new partner.

What Happens if You Marry a New Partner?

A new spouse’s income cannot be included in calculating child support under Washington state law. But there could be a way for your ex to work around this. If your new spouse’s income is being put toward basic necessities, like rent, their income could be factored into a child support payment modification upon request. However, while your ex can use your spouse’s income as a way to adjust child support, it cannot be the only reason to change the payment amount.

For example, your ex might have a drastic change in their financial situation due to a medical condition or losing a job. If they use this in conjunction with your change in finances due to a new spouse, the court system might consider a child support modification.

What Happens if Your New Partner Also Has Kids?

The circumstances can change when your new partner also has kids to care for. If you plan on also providing for your new stepchildren, you may need to adjust your payment schedule. If you’re supporting children other than your own, the court will need to count your current spouse’s income toward your payments and vice versa.

In another case, if your current partner is also supporting their children through payments, this could affect the availability of your finances to pay your own child support payments. The court will also look into this situation to gauge whether modifying your child support payments is in the best interest of all parties involved.

The bottom line is that living with a new partner could affect your child support payments if it substantially changes your financial situation. Remember that the sole reason for adjusting payments cannot be made due to a new partner living with you; another situation must occur that results in the need for this modification. If you’re facing this type of situation, consider hiring a LaCoste Family Law Washington child custody attorney to help build your case. Our attorneys go the extra mile to ensure our clients receive the best outcome with their cases—we look forward to working with you!