Can Child Support Hurt Your Second Marriage?

In the United States, about five out of ten marriages will end in divorce. What’s worse is second and subsequent marriages have an even higher risk of divorce. In Psychology Today, Mark Banschick, M.D. wrote: “Past statistics have shown that in the U.S. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. What are the reasons for this progressive increase in divorce rates? Theories abound.”

As Dr. Banschick examined the various reasons behind this increased risk of divorce, he mentioned second marriages being rebound relationships. He mentioned how the people were often “vulnerable” and didn’t allow enough time to get their priorities on track before getting remarried.

Dr. Banschick also talked about people entering their next marriage for the wrong reasons, and failing to internalize the lessons from their first divorce. He said people are likely to repeat the same mistakes, which can make them vulnerable to similar conflicts and once again, another broken marriage.

However, we believe that one factor in the failure of second marriages is the stress associated with the first divorce, namely child custody and child support. But for the purposes of this article, we’re going to focus on how child support matters can place undue stress on a second marriage and sometimes weaken its foundation.

Don’t Ignore These Child Support Issues

We’re not going to candy-coat it: Second marriages can suffer because of child support issues – in more ways than one. Unfortunately, many couples who are happy and madly in love will get married, only to have all kinds of child support issues place stress on their finances and their relationship. But the question is, how can child support impact a second marriage? Here are just SOME of the ways:

  • In California, once you reach arrears in the amount of 30 or more calendar days, your various licenses can be suspended, including your driver license, a business or occupational license, a professional or recreational license. Learn more by clicking here. If your driver license or business license is suspended, how will that affect your ability to pay your portion of the bills? How would your new spouse react to this problem?
  • If you end up owing your ex $2,500 or more in child support payments, you will not be able to obtain a U.S. passport. This means you can’t take that honeymoon to Europe, or travel abroad with your sweetheart. Click here for details.
  • If you buy a house with your new husband or wife and you fall behind on your child support payments, the Local Child Support Agency (LCSA) can file a lien against your new home. Such a lien would prevent you from selling, refinancing, or transferring the home until you satisfy the lien. This can really affect your finances if you need to sell or refinance for some reason.
  • Expecting a nice tax refund this year? Well, if you owe child support, your tax refund may be taken to repay the child support debt. This can stress your spouse out, especially if he or she was looking forward to that money to put it in savings, pay off credit card debt, or take a much-needed vacation. However, if your spouse files a joint return with you, they may be entitled to request a portion of the refund back from the IRS because they are not responsible for the child support debt. This is called an “Injured Spouse Claim.”
  • If you win the lottery, it can be taken for past-due child support.
  • If you owe child support and you have a joint bank account where your spouse’s paycheck is deposited, the “joint funds” in the account can be garnished for your child support arrears. This can not only wreak havoc on your budget, but it can greatly upset your spouse, who’s hard-earned income went to child support.
  • Your 401k can be garnished for child support arrears, adding more stress to your marriage.
  • If you’re injured and unable to work, it doesn’t end your child support obligation. Child support can be taken from unemployment, workers’ compensation, and Social Security Disability benefits. It cannot however, be taken from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because federal law prohibits it. So, even if your income is drastically reduced, child support can still be taken from various types of benefits, further decreasing your monthly income and adding more stress to your new marriage.

As you can see, if you’re entering a second marriage, there are a number of ways that child support arrears can prove challenging. Just remember that the local child support agencies have a lot of tools in their toolboxes when it comes to collecting past-due child support, many of which can lead to arguments over finances with your new spouse.

Child custody challenges with a new marriage can be hard sometimes, but child support arrears can be even harder, especially if you ignore the problem or try to avoid your obligations. But all hope is not lost. There are solutions.

What You Can Do to Be Proactive

You want your new marriage to last and you want to shield your spouse from unnecessary stress. The best way to protect your interests and the integrity of your new marriage is to understand the child support laws and the consequences of failing to pay child support.

Related: 3 Rules for Dating After Divorce

If something happens; for example, if you lose your job or become injured, contact our firm at once to ask the court for a downward modification that reflects your current financial status. By being proactive, you can greatly reduce if not eliminate the negative consequences of letting your child support arrears spiral out of control.