Although it is very rare that a stepparent is court ordered to pay child support for their step children, it does happen. It can be argued that it is the legal responsibility of the biological parents to financially support their children, but New Jersey family court will always base child support rulings on what is in the best interest of the child. In some situations, receiving financial support from the stepparent may be in the child’s best interests.
Child Support During Marriage
With divorce at an all-time high, and 75 percent of divorced couples entering into new marriages, The US Bureau of Census finds that 1300 new stepfamilies are forming every day. As a result, New Jersey recognizes a stepparent as an important figure in a child’s life, and one who will most likely remain in that child’s life forever.
New Jersey recognizes a stepparent’s obligation to provide financial support to their stepchildren while living under the same roof. However, the courts may not enforce a support order unless the biological parents are unable to provide support. When this is the case, child support can become a stepparent’s legal responsibility.
Child Support Payments and the Stepparent’s Income
When calculating child support, the stepparent’s income is normally not factored in. However, sometimes the law considers this income when determining what a biological parent should pay. For example, if a stepparent is sharing expenses, allowing the biological parent’s expenses to decrease, the court may take a closer look at the situation. Although the stepparent will not be ordered to pay child support directly, their income could become a factor when recalculating the biological parent’s child support payments.
It is important to keep in mind that there are many factors involved when considering the financial situation of a remarriage, including the new family’s plans to have their own children. For those who feel their own child support payments, or that of their spouses, should be recalculated, an experienced Marlton child support lawyer will be able to examine the details of the situation to determine what changes, if any, should be made.
Divorce and In Loco Parentis
In some cases, a stepparent may choose to take on the responsibilities of a biological parent (In Loco Parentis). This can include:
- Emotional Support: Love and guidance
- Financial Responsibility: Clothes, food, shelter, etc.
- Decision Making: Education, healthcare, activities, etc.
However, if the stepparent and the biological parent choose to end their marriage, the stepparent could be ordered to continue to provide support. This would be especially true if the child was dependent on the stepparent for a prolonged period of time, and this dependence severed ties with the non-custodial parent.