Marrying Someone who Pays Child Support or Alimony


Everyone in life deserves a second chance at love and happiness. So you may feel lucky to offer such a chance to your fiancé who has gone through an experience as painful as divorce and separated from his/her kids too. However marriage not only involves emotional support but in some cases joint financial responsibility as well. So if you have fallen in love with a person who has child support payments among his/her financial responsibilities and are thinking of getting married, bear in mind that this could have a range of implications for your married life too.

Too much debt on your partner

Once you get married, knowingly or otherwise, you often end up having tied your fortunes to your spouse. Any person who has a poor credit rating will find it extremely difficult to secure a loan from a financial institution. So if you are going to marry a person already reeling under debt occasioned by large child support payments and then after marriage, you proceed to jointly seek a mortgage or a business loan, you may find your application being turned down. And even when your application is approved, the repayment terms may be far stricter and more expensive than it would have been had you jointly applied for the loan with a person with better credit rating.

An even greater danger in marrying someone burdened with debt is that you may stand to lose your own financial assets. Once you jointly incur debt with your partner or even keep a joint checking account, in case he/she is unable to repay his/her share of the debt, your creditors may be within their rights to realize the principal and interest on the debt from your individual assets. Apart from the financial loss this will mean to you, your own credit score will also suffer which in turn will negatively affect your ability to take loans and mortgages in future.

However it is not necessary that your partner has to incur debt in order to meet his/her child support responsibilities. Even then such a commitment is sure to bring in some restrictions on spending which you may find at odds with a comfortable married life. Remember this is a person who is already under substantial financial obligation to his/her ex and therefore unlikely to be able to afford major expenses after your marriage. Thus all large-scale indulgences would probably have to be borne by you – whether you want to go for a Mediterranean cruise or buy that 52-inch screen LCD TV, it is your paycheck that will be on the line. Above all, a person who is already under financial pressure to support kids from a previous marriage may not feel financially ready to have or raise a child with you whereas you may be eager to start your own family. If such complications are true of your relationship as well, move ahead with patience and understanding since conflicting views opinions on having kids are believed to be among the most common reasons for a breakup.

How the law can help

While the law can seem strict about post-divorce financial obligations, most state divorce laws allow modification of alimony or child support payments. Ask your partner to check his/her state's divorce laws and speak with an attorney since he/she may be eligible for modification of child support. Under some divorce laws, new support obligations can provide some relief to a person paying child support after divorce. If an ex-spouse paying support remarries and has a child the court may reduce the amount of support paid since it would constitute a hardship to pay current support and meet his/her new obligations. This however does not apply to an ex-spouse who marries and voluntarily takes on the responsibility of supporting step-children.

Focus on the present

While marrying someone with financial obligations will certainly leave less disposable funds for your relationship, instead of obsessing about future difficulties, maybe you should focus on how things are right now. If you are thinking of marrying this man or woman, it can be assumed that you have known each other for some time now. How has he or she handled money up until this point? Does he pay his way or does she depend on you for everything from rent to her clothes? Does your partner have enough savings or does he/she end up losing every penny to the ex? Evaluating your partner’s present financial habits will give you an idea about what you can expect to continue in future. If you think you can handle your partner's financial obligations to his/her ex, there is no reason why you should back away from a relationship that is supportive and loving in all other aspects. Granted that expenses are going to rise substantially after marriage since you may be moving to a larger home and perhaps having a family of your own but then you will have to be prepared to support your partner emotionally and financially, as is expected in any other marriage. Because after all every marriage is a team – and you with your own hard work, personal savings, prudent spending, and wise retirement investing can help make up for any child support that your partner is still paying in the future. And if you are still in two minds, consult a financial consultant and have a discussion on how you can plan for your future as a married couple with the resources available to you.

Finally it may help to look at the situation from the other side. If the person you are marrying is responsible enough to meet his/her commitments to his/her kids even though they may no longer be living with him/her, what does this tell you about your partner as a person – that he/she is a deeply responsible, trustworthy person who does not shirk from his/her duties even when things don’t turn out in his/her favor. In one way this bodes well for your relationship too since you know your partner will fulfill your expectations to the best of his/her abilities instead of taking the easy way out and bolting.