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Why Child Custody & Child Support Matter

Parents are legally obligated to provide for their minor children. This obligation does not change when parents separate or divorce. The goal of child custody and support orders is to ensure that the children in question are taken care of in a similar manner had their parents not separated or divorced. This goal does not change when/if you or your ex remarries. In some ways, these court orders become even more important.

Child custody orders help ensure that both parents have appropriate parenting time with, and access to, their children. They also protect parents' legal custody rights and their ability to make important decisions regarding their children's upbringing.

When making custody or support determinations and modifications, the courts will always put the children's best interests first.

When making custody decisions, the courts consider:

  • Where the children currently live
  • The living situation of both parents
  • The proximity of both parents to the children's school
  • Viability of moving between both parents' homes
  • The ability of each parent to provide a stable home environment
  • The mental and physical health of both parents
  • Preference of the children, when appropriate

When making child support decisions, the courts consider:

  • Each parent’s income
  • The financial needs of the children
  • The number and age of the children
  • The custody or visitation schedule
  • The ability of the ordered parent to pay child support

Click here to read more about Florida's child support guidelines.

Child Custody & Child Support Orders Are Legally Binding

When a family court hands down child support and child custody orders, they are legally binding. If a parent fails to fulfill their duty as outlined in these orders, the other parent can take legal action against them to enforce the order. If you are struggling to comply with a custody or support order, or your ex is not fulfilling their legal responsibilities, you should reach out to a trusted lawyer for help. An attorney can help you determine your best course of action.

I Am Getting Remarried; Will My Child Custody or Support Order Be Affected?

Because both parents are legally required to support their minor children physically and financially, getting remarried does not affect this obligation. No matter what, the parents still have a responsibility to provide for their children. However, remarriage often comes with changes in circumstances that may have a significant and lasting impact on the parents' and/or the children's lives. When this happens, it may be necessary to review your original child support and child custody orders.

Reasons a Remarriage May Necessitate a Custody or Child Support Modification

When someone remarries, their financial situation may change, and they may have additional children with their new partner. It is also not uncommon for parents to relocate to a new home or area when they remarry. These changes in circumstance can affect a parent's ability to fulfill their custody and child support obligations.

Common reasons for child custody or support modifications include:

  • Relocation or change in living conditions
  • Change in employment or work schedule
  • Change in income or financial resources
  • The birth of new children

To petition the courts for child support or child custody modifications, the change in circumstances must be both significant and lasting.

For example, when a parent remarries, their new spouse likely makes a financial contribution to the household. This new contribution will be considered when assessing the parent's ability to pay child support to their ex. While the new spouse's income is not included in the child support calculation, the courts may view the parent as better able to contribute to their child's financial needs and may order an increase in child support.

Conversely, suppose a parent who is ordered to pay child support to their ex has a child with their new spouse. They are legally obligated to provide for both the previous children and any additional children they have. The courts may reduce the child support the parent pays to their ex to accommodate their obligation to this new child.

What About Stepchildren?

When you or your spouse remarries, the new family being formed may include stepchildren. Blended families come with their own challenges and responsibilities. However, this does not constitute grounds for modifying a child support order. Even with the addition of stepchildren, your obligation to your biological children remains the same.

At Mitchell & West LLC, we understand how difficult it can be to navigate life after divorce. As time goes on and your family grows, you may have questions about your original child support and custody orders. Our lawyers are highly qualified and ready to answer your questions. Contact our family law firm if you need help modifying or enforcing family court orders.