Divorce is a hard time for the entire family and this is especially true for children. The breakup of a family can be stressful and confusing. If the divorce is between their biological parent and a step-parent, there could be some confusion about whether or not the step-parent is legally obligated to pay for child support.
Here is some information that can help if you are going through a divorce with children regarding child support.
Child Support Payments
In many states and cases, the step-parent is not legally required to pay child support to the other spouse during a divorce. Child support is typically paid by the biological parents and is based on their incomes at the time the support is granted. This amount can change over time based on either parent's income changing or the age of the child, or if the child's needs change over time such as any medical issues that arise.
Step-Parents Can Be Legally Obligated In Some Cases
While for the most part step-parents are not obligated to pay child support payments, there are some exceptions to this. For example, if the step-parent legally adopted the child at some point during the marriage or even before the marriage, they can then be obligated to pay child support to the other spouse regardless of whether or not they have two biological parents. This is because the step-parent is now considered one of the responsible parties for that child.
When a step-parent adopts the child, one of the biological parents must give up parental rights to that child. This means they are no longer legally responsible for any financials related to raising the child. The step-parent becomes the legal parent and therefore responsible for any costs associated with raising the child. This does include child support in the event of a divorce.
An example of when a step-parent is legally obligated to receive child support during a divorce is if they have been appointed the legal guardian or custodian of the child by the courts because their biological parent was hospitalized or in jail, or otherwise unable or unfit to care for the child.
They can apply to receive child support because they are the primary and legal caregiver to that child. They may be able to apply to receive child support from either biological parent depending on their income and ability to pay.
If the step-parent retains custody of the child after their spouse was released from the hospital or from jail, that parent can be legally responsible for paying child support. Contact a child support attorney for more information.