Couples in Ontario who are separating or divorcing may wonder how child support is assessed. In fact, it can be complex because it is not necessarily only biological parents who must pay it.
The term “parent” does not refer only to biological parents. Parents might be adoptive parents or stepparents. They might also have acted in a parental role in a common-law marriage. All of these parents might be legally required to support their children as long as they are dependent. Even if an individual is not married to the biological parent of a child, if the two lived together and the individual treated the child like a family member, that individual may have to pay child support.
Courts will weigh the relationship of the stepparent with the child as well as how long it has been since the two had contact. A man may be ordered to take paternity test if it is claimed that he is a child’s biological father and he denies it. Refusal to take the test may result in the man being compelled to pay child support. A biological father who does not have a relationship with his child or the parent still must legally support that child. Individuals who are facing divorce or separation may wish to consult a lawyer.
A lawyer may be helpful in negotiating issues like child custody and support. For example, two individuals may have been living together for several years with the biological child of one individual before deciding to separate. The child’s other biological parent may already pay child support. However, the stepparent may be asked to pay support after the separation. By working with lawyers, the individuals may come to a satisfactory agreement regarding support.
Source: Community Legal Education Ontario, “Separation and Divorce: Child Support“, January 06, 2015