In the United States, on average, 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce and it’s been that way for a long time. Interestingly, the chances of divorce actually increase with every subsequent marriage. So, the chances of a second marriage lasting are worse than a first marriage. Could one of the reasons be because of the baggage people bring from their first marriages? Some people would say, “Yes, absolutely.”
If you’re engaged to be married for the second time or if you’re already in your second marriage and you have minor children with your former spouse, we want to let you know that there are several ways that owing child support to your ex can impact (hurt) your second marriage.
Unfortunately, so many noncustodial parents don’t realize this. What happens is they run behind in their child support and it adds undue stress to their new marriages. Sometimes, it adds so much stress that it causes a lot of turmoil in the new relationship, which all could have been avoided if the parent knew a little more about child support collection.
What You Need to Know
For starters, it’s very difficult to escape paying child support in the United States today. If a parent falls too far behind, the local child support agency will get to work; it will start using any one or more of the enforcement tools it has at its disposal, and there are many.
Examples of how child support arrears can affect a second marriage:
- If you owe more than $2,500 in back child support, you will not be able to get a US passport and if you have one now, you won’t be able to leave the country. If you have a honeymoon planned abroad, or if you plan on traveling outside the US with your new husband or wife, this will put a damper on your plans.
- If you have a joint bank account with your new spouse and the child support agency levies the bank account, your spouse can be quite upset, especially if the money taken came from their paycheck!
- If your balance reaches a certain threshold, your various licenses can be suspended, including a recreational license. If your driver license is suspended, your new spouse will have to drive you everywhere. Or, if your professional license is suspended, you won’t be able to work and earn money.
- If you owe child support, you can kiss part or all of your tax refund goodbye and this could devastate your new spouse.
- If you win the Florida lottery, your winnings can be taken to pay child support. How would your spouse feel about this?
- When you owe child support, a judgment can be reported on your credit, in effect hurting your FICO score, which could make it hard to get a good auto loan or a low rate on a mortgage with your new spouse.
- If you owe child support, a lien can be placed on your home. As a result, you and your new spouse could not sell the house or refinance it without paying off the child support debt first.
Please keep in mind that child support cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. No matter what, it must be paid at some point. For bankruptcy purposes, it is a “priority debt” and has to be paid eventually. If you have a child support debt, our advice is to contact our firm and find out if a downward modification may be in order.