It is common for a divorced person to remarry and have a second family, including additional children. Courts give little consideration to obligations to a child support obligor may have to a second family when the issue of child support, maintenance, or other obligations from the divorce come up.
Don’t his obligations to his new family count?
A newspaper story told of a man who after his divorce remarried and has a child by the new marriage. He was found in contempt of court and sentenced to 180 days work release in jail because he failed to pay his part of the college education costs of a child of the first marriage. Don’t his obligations to his new family count?
Not much. The Illinois Appellate Courts sometimes give lip service to the concept that the new family should be considered but, in fact, no or virtually no consideration is given to the obligation for the second family.
Will you give some examples of how Illinois Appellate Courts have ruled on first family versus second family issues?
Gregory v. Gregory, 52 Ill. App. 2d 262 stated: “Although the effect may be to deprive a second wife of support, from a legal standpoint, the first come first and the second come second. In other words, the first obligation must be met before the second can or will be considered.” In Berkheimer v. Berkheimer, 63 Ill. App.3d 19, the appellate court did not allow a reduction in maintenance (alimony) where the husband’s only change of circumstances was increased expenses from a second marriage.
Obligation for Child Support Factors
I have a child support obligation from my first marriage. I remarried and had a child by the second marriage, and I am now going through a divorce. Will my obligation for child support for the child of my first marriage be considered in determining how much child support I pay for the child of my second marriage?
Yes. Child support is based on the obligor’s net income. In calculating an obligor’s net income, one of the statutory deductions from gross income to determine net income is, “Prior obligations of support or maintenance actually paid pursuant to a court order.” The result would be the same if the first order for child support was in a paternity case.
Can the laws favoring first marriages be overturned?
The newspaper article about the McHenry County case said that a half dozen members of a second wives organization protested the judge’s ruling at a candlelight vigil at the Woodstock Square. Can something be done to overturn the laws favoring the first marriage?
Probably not. The legislature will not change the law, if for no other reason than that there are more first family voters than there are second family voters.
What advice would you give to a second wife, or one who is about to be second wife?
In 1984, Glynnis Walker, a journalist and a second wife, wrote the book Second Wife, Second Best. Her advice is, “To be forewarned is to be forearmed.” Walker’s book contains interesting facts about second wives:
- 74% of the second wives surveyed had jobs and the majority said they worked to help their husbands meet support payments to the first family.
- 30% of second wives felt they could not afford to have their own children because they were supporting children from their husbands’ previous marriage.
- 60% of second wives said they were not prepared for the consequences of marrying men who had been married before. In spite of this, 67% said they would do it again.
If I remarry will my new wife’s income have an impact on my obligation for child support?
- If you apply for a reduction in support because your wages are lower, but your new wife’s income more than makes up for your reduced income, the court will not reduce your support obligation.
- Your new wife has no legal obligation for the support of her stepchildren.