Paying Child Support for Children Who Are Not Yours
Both Federal and Provincial legislation states that those who have acted as a parent for a child can be required to support that child, even if they are not the biological parent. The term used for this is in “loco parentis,” which is a Latin term meaning, “acting in the place of a parent.” This means that if you move in with a partner who has a child or children from a previous relationship, and you later separate from that partner, you could be required to pay child support for those children, even if the other biological parent is paying your partner support. The likelihood of this occurring depends on numerous factors, but they essentially boil down to the strength of the bond formed between you and the children in question.
There is no deciding factor, however, some of the questions that judges have asked to try and ascertain the level of involvement between a step-parent and a child, include:
- Was the step-parent involved in the child’s day-to-day activities, such as helping with homework, activities, transportation, preparing meals and bedtime routines?
- Did the step-parent ever discipline the child as a parent would?
- Did the step-parent ever financially support the child, such as assisting with school costs, clothing, events, etc.?
- Did the step-parent treat the child as their own, such as buying birthday gifts, inviting them to family events, include them on vacations?
- Did the step-parent ever introduce themselves as a parent of the child to others in the community?
- Did the step-parent ever consider adopting the child?
- What relationship, if any, does the child have with the other biological parent?
Once a Court decides that a person has stood in the place of a parent for a child, it is likely that they will have to pay child support. It would be unfair, to a child who has relied on you as a parent for a number of years, to suddenly be cut off from that support, physically, emotionally and financially.
The second step would be to determine the amount of support that you would have to pay. Again there are a number of factors, but it could range from the full Child Support Guideline table amount based on your income, a set-off amount taking into account payments made by the child’s biological parent, or no support if a parental relationship is not found. If there is a bond, however, the non-biological parent could also seek parenting time with the child(ren).
The answer to ‘if’ and ‘how much’ child support can vary wildly across jurisdictions and of course depending on the facts in your particular case. Nonetheless, it is important to know that even acting as a parent for someone else’s children could mean that you have to continue to financially support them after your relationship ends, whether you marry the other parent or not.