My wife and I are separating after 7 years of marriage. Will I have to pay child support for my two step-children?
The simple answer is “possibly”. In determining whether or not a step-parent will be required to pay support, there are several factors that merit consideration. The courts have determined that the test of whether or not a child is entitled to support from a step-parent is whether or not that person “stands in the place of a parent”, which is a fact-driven analysis.
Some of the factors to be considered in determining whether the relationship meets the test include the opinion of the child, the participation of the child with extended family of the step-parent, whether the step-parent disciplines the child, and the nature of the relationship between the child and the absent parent. In considering these factors and others, the courts will look at the overall nature of the relationship and determine if the step-parent “stands in the place of the parent”. It should be noted that a breakdown in the relationship between the step-parent and the child following separation is not a consideration. Furthermore, receipt of support from a biological parent is not a bar to a finding that a step-parent is required to pay child support.