Decoding Parenting & Child Support in the Family Law Kingdom

Liberty Brown

March 7, 2024
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Hey there! You’re probably here because you’re curious about how child support and parenting tie into being a step-parent, right? Well, you’ve come to the right place. No need for a long boring intro let’s dive right into it.  

The Big Responsibility Question: Stepparenting and Child Support  

Alright, so let’s consider the following scenario:  you’re with someone who has a child/(ren) from a past relationship. If things go south between you and your partner (fingers crossed they don’t!), a question you may have is: could you end up shelling out for child support? Well, the short answer is- it’s possible and let us tell you how.  

If you’ve been playing the parent role – you know, helping with the bills, bonding with the child, doing anything that shows your intention of you acknowledging the child as a child of the family – then you might be seen as “in place of the parent” by the law. They’ve got a term for it in the legal jungle: “loco parentis.” Sounds like something straight out of a lawyer’s joke book, doesn’t it? Well, how do you know if you’re in that joke book? Well, here’s a quick checklist. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • How long have you and your partner been together? – The longer the relationship, the more time you have most likely been in the child’s life and been “in place of the parent.”
  • What’s your relationship like with the child? – If it’s a great one, and the child looks at you like a parent, then the title is more likely to fit.
  • Have you pitched in financially for the child?
  • What was the timing of the Court Application for child support? (if there is one)
  • Does the child see you as part of the family?
  • Do you introduce yourself as the parent, in public settings or with other third parties?
  • Was there any discussion of adoption?
  • Does the child have a relationship with their biological parent? – The more involvement the child has with their biological parent, the less likelihood you would be in the “place of a parent”.

The more ticks you’ve got, the more likely the title applies to you. But please, understand one thing. With the court, and with a lot of things in law, their discretion plays a LARGE role. So based on the above checklist, don’t play judge just yet. These are just points to ponder.  Say it with me: Hold my judgment, keep calm, and carry on! 

Stepparenting and Parenting time with the Child.

Now that we shed a little light on how being a stepparent and child support can relate, let’s discuss the stepparent’s right to see the child they are supporting in the event of a separation. 

Now consider this scenario, you and your partner have split, but you’re not ready to say goodbye to the little one just yet. Can you still be a part of their life according to the law?  

The short answer to this is – Yes, yes, you can!  

You can ask the court for visitation rights. Phew, right? Even though you’re not blood-related, if you’ve built a bond with the child and they see you as a parent figure, you’ve got a shot. Here are some things that the court looks at: 

  • Do you and the child have a solid bond?
  • Does the child see you as mom or dad?
  • Is your relationship crucial to the child’s well-being?
  • Will your presence help the child maintain other important relationships?
  • Will staying connected with you benefit the child’s overall social circle? 

See? The law is not always a grinch. But hey, it’s a bit of a maze out there, so if you’re feeling lost, don’t sweat it, and don’t navigate it on your own. This is just a glimpse of information, and I am sure you have many more questions you want answered. 

If you need some legal handholding in the wild world of family law, call us at (905) 492-7662 or shoot us an email at [email protected]. We’ll help you navigate this crazy jungle.