Why You May Be Obligated To Provide Child Support For Your Stepchild
Ordinarily, stepparents are not legally obligated to provide financial support to their stepchildren. However, just like with other family laws, there are exceptions to this generality. For example, you may be required to provide child support for your stepchild under the following conditions:
You Are Living With the Stepchild
In some states, the courts are of the opinion that the adults who are living with a child and taking care of the child as a parent would do should have child support obligations. Therefore, in such states, you will be legally obligated to take care of your stepchild if you are married to the child's mother and the child is a member of your household.
The Custodial Parents Are Unable To Take Care of the Child
In other states, you aren't obligated to take care of your stepchild whether you are living with them as long as their biological parent is able to take care of them. However, once the biological parent's become unable to take care of the child, and you are living with the child, then the onus is on you to take care of the child. This may be the case, for example, if the biological parent has been locked up, has become destitute or is too sick to care for the child.
You Have Adopted the Child
Once you have adopted a child, you become their legal parent and you are required to meet all obligations that legal parents have for their children. Therefore, as a stepparent who has adopted their stepchild, you are expected to provide child support for the child.
You Have Signed an Agreement to the Same
As a stepparent, you will also have child support obligations if you have signed an agreement that makes you responsible for the child's support. A good example is if you signed a premarital agreement with the mother of the child to the effect that you will support the child. As long as the agreement is legally binding, the court will expect you to abide by all its clauses and pay child support.
An attorney who handles family law services should be your go-to professional for all your child support issues. For example, if you are required to pay child support for your stepchild and you think the requirement isn't warranted, a child support lawyer can help you mount a legal challenge for the requirement. Note that you should always pay child support, even if you think it's wrong, as long as you haven't succeeded in overturning the order.