While child support is an important issue in the vast majority of divorces with children — and even some situations where the couple was never married — who is responsible for paying the support is often a point of contention. In most cases, the children’s biological parents are responsible for the financial support. However, adoptive parents also take on this responsibility as part of the legal transfer of parental rights.
Other than in situations involving legal adoptions, it is generally assumed that the noncustodial biological parent is responsible for paying child support. This is because the custodial parent is general incurring a higher percentage of the child-related expenses, such as child care, food and clothing and other monies that go toward things such as extracurricular activities or school supplies. The noncustodial parent’s child support obligation is designed to help offset some of those costs and result in a more equal financial split.
However, there are also some instances in which a stepparent may be required to pay child support for a child that is not biologically theirs. This usually happens when the stepparent has been married to the child’s biological parent for a long time and has been contributing to the child’s financial support during the course of the marriage.
For legal purposes, the couple does not have to be married for the non-biological parent to be deemed a stepparent, as some cases of common law marriages also qualify. This can be a confusing aspect of family law, and it’s a good idea to run the specifics of your situation and any questions you have, by a lawyer who can offer an in-depth explanation.
Source: Community Legal Education Ontario, “Who must pay child support?,” accessed Oct. 16, 2015