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Do Step-Parents Owe Child Support?

Do Step-Parents Owe Child Support? 

In a case that happened in Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice dealt with the issue of whether a step-parent will be responsible for child support when a biological parent is already paying child support.

In Stetler, the wife had a child from a previous relationship that she brought into the marriage. The evidence showed that the husband had treated the daughter as his own and the daughter had treated him like her father. The daughter’s biological father had never met her and was not involved in her life.

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However, the mother received regular monthly child support from the child’s biological father. When the parties separated, the husband applied to the court for a determination that he was not responsible for support due to the fact that the daughter’s biological father was already paying.

Child Support- Ontario Family Law Firm

child support

Addressing the issue of child support, the Honourable Mr. Justice Flynn stated that if the evidence shows that a spouse stood in the place of a parent, that spouse has an obligation to provide support. This obligation continues even if there is an unseen biological parent already paying. Is there more than one parent responsible to pay support?

The obligation is a joint responsibility between all parents who are required to pay. So, in the circumstances of a step-parent standing in place of a parent and a biological parent, the responsibility to pay child support will be joint between both parents.

There are a variety of approaches to the actual calculation of child support responsibility after it is determined to be a joint responsibility. In the Stetler case, the Justice Flynn chose to have the step-father take over 1/3 of the payment already being made by the biological father in accordance with his income and the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Support was divided in this manner because the biological parent made approximately twice as much as the step-parent.

In conclusion, yes, a step-parent can owe child support even if a biological parent is already paying. Just because a biological parent is already paying support does not mean that a step-parent who stands in the place of the parent will not be responsible for support upon breakdown of the relationship. What that child support obligation will look like, will depend on the circumstances.

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Calulating Income for Support Purposes

You’ve tried everything to get your ex in front of a judge to get your child support figured out. You’ve sent countless letters demanding his/her income information, and they do nothing but ignore you. You have tried to stay away from family court but you have not received any child support since you separated. Your bills are piling up. At this point you should be contacting a ClearWay Law lawyer. The family lawyer can try and get the family court to impute your ex’s income. The lawyer can then try to create an enforceable support order for you.

There is nothing more aggravating to family court judges than parties who do not follow the procedure in family law cases. The major point of contention is typically disclosure. Have you tried everything available to you to obtain your ex’s financial disclosure? You tried to figure out what they owe in child or spousal support and have come up with nothing. Your lawyer can go to court and have a judge make a determination about what they deem an appropriate income for your ex should be. You can use a court order to force him/her to pay support based on that income.

Read more: 10 Things to Consider Before Getting A Divorce

For child support, the Federal Child Support Guidelines applies. It states that if no information regarding a person’s income is forthcoming, a judge can use other evidence provided by the parties to make a determination as to what they believe a party’s income to be.

The family judge may look at the following:

  • old pay stubs
  • postings for similar jobs
  • income charts provided by companies or the federal/provincial government on the specific industry your ex is working in

The above can all be submitted as evidence to help a judge determine what income your former spouse earns. In these cases the more specific information you can collect will better your chances at having a judge being as close as possible to your ex’s actual income.

With that information a judge can determine what your ex should be making or is currently making at their job. This will then provide the basis for setting child and spousal support amounts for you on a go forward basis. Once you have this order you can file it with the Family Responsibility Office. They can begin collecting support from your ex.