Upon Separation: Child Support for Step-Children

February 21, 2018

Where you have partnered with someone who has children from another relationship and you subsequently separate, you may have an obligation to pay child support for those children.

The legal test is whether you acted as a parent to your spouse’s children from their former relationship.   If you have acted as a parent, you will likely have an obligation to pay child support for those children after separation.  The first step is to determine if you have acted as a parent.  Being called “Dad” or “Mom”, having the children living in your home and engaging in activities as a family, going on family vacations together, being involved in day-to-day care, attending parent-teacher meetings, and other similar activities have all been considered by the Court when looking at whether a person has acted as a parent.

If you have acted as a parent, the question then becomes what is the correct amount of monthly child support that should be paid, if any.  The federal Child Support Guidelines, unlike with biological parents, does not automatically apply.  A calculation of a step-parent’s child support obligations is a complex determination that looks at the financial circumstances of the biological parents as well as the step-parent, and any subsequent re-partnering by the person seeking child support from the step-parent.

Legal advice should be obtained whenever you are seeking child support from a step-parent, or are responding to a request to pay child support as a step-parent.