Does it matter how much my new spouse earns for calculating California Child Support?

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In most cases the answer is no. After a divorce or when there are children involved in a case, for child support or child custody, the case will last for years with modifications and reviews. During this time a spouse could ask the court for more visitation with their child, to pay less child support due to a change, or for a parent to request more child support from the non-custodial parent. Often times, as this process continues on, seemingly forever, things change in your life; you get re-married, you get promoted, you lose your job – all which can affect your case. When those life changes happen the court could, and has, made mistakes in looking at factors that they should not be looking at, which is why having a lawyer to advocate for you in these delicate matters is crucial.

In the 1995 California case of In re Marriage of Wood, the parties had been separated for a period of time and the former husband requested the court re-evaluate and lower his child support payments due to the fact that his former wife had remarried. In that case, the court looked at both parties’ incomes and also, improperly, looked at the income of the wife’s new husband in deciding the proper amount of child support the former father was to pay.

In doing so, the court failed to follow California Family Law Code section of 4057.5 when it did so. The new code section stated that the court may not consider the income of the former wife’s new husband when considering the appropriate amount of child support to be awarded. However, there is a narrow exception that states that the income of the new spouse may be considered when the child would suffer “extreme hardship” if the income was not considered, which is rarely the case or applicable. In the case of Wood, there was no danger of “extreme hardship” but the court none the less improperly ruled and adjusted the child support the ex-wife was to receive from her ex-husband due to her new husband’s income.

Luckily for the wife, she had an attorney who understood the law and saw the courts error and the injustice that the error created and was able to appeal the court’s ruling. In doing so, the appellate court ruled that the California trial court ruled improperly and ordered them to re-hear the case while applying the applicable Family Law code section in the case. Without an attorney, the ex-wife likely would’ve never been able to correct the courts mistake and receive the proper child support from her ex-husband. For reasons like this it is crucial that you hire a divorce lawyer who practices family law and understands the complex nature of the law like the lawyers at The Law Offices of Michael S. Carrillo. The Law Offices of Michael S. Carrillo can offer you a free consultation to discuss your case. Call us today for that consultation at (626) 799-9375.

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