Remarriage, Spousal Maintenance, and Child Support

Although a divorce means the end of a relationship, it also means the beginning of the next chapter of life for both spouses.  It is very common for one or both spouses to move forward Remarriageafter the divorce and get remarried.  Where a former spouse has been ordered to pay alimony (called “spousal maintenance” in Minnesota) or child support, remarriage and a new family can have far-reaching impacts on the order.

Spousal maintenance is ordered in some cases where one of the spouses is economically disadvantaged, and has often spent time helping to support the other spouse so he or she can be the primary bread winner in the family.  Spousal maintenance is designed to allow the economically disadvantaged spouse to maintain a similar standard of living as during the marriage or in some cases, go back to school and raise his or her earning capacity.  Minnesota statute § 518A.39 specifically provides that if the spouse receiving spousal maintenance remarries, then the maintenance obligation ends.  As a result, receiving spouses used to put off remarriage for years, choosing instead to cohabitate with their new love interest without the benefit of marriage.  However, the law changed to provide that a court may suspend or terminate spousal maintenance if the receiving spouse lives with another adult.

Child support is impacted far less than spousal maintenance than remarriage.  The paying parent’s obligation is to help support his or her children, regardless of whether he or she remarries or whether the receiving parent remarries.  A parent cannot ask to eliminate support payments just because the receiving parent marries a new wealthy spouse.  Similarly, just because the paying parent remarries and now has to help support his new family, that will not change his legal obligation to help support his children.  However, one or both parents having new children can be a factor that will make it appropriate to modify child support.  If a paying parent has new child support order entered against him or her, for example, for children that are from a different relationship, that can end up impacting his child support obligation that resulted from the divorce.

Contact us today at 651-371-9117 for a consultation to talk abou your case.  We can speak with you about your divorce and what impact remarriage may have on your obligations.

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