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Child Support Obligations of Non-Biological Parents

California law is very strict regarding a parent’s obligation to a child. Every parent is responsible to support all of his or her children. Even a parent who does not see his kids and who is not involved with them must pay support. Parents cannot waive a support obligation in a prenuptial agreement and the courts and state agencies help to collect support from parents who do not want to pay.

While biological parents virtually always must pay child support, the child support obligations of non-biological parents are much more limited. If you are not the biological parent of a child, you typically will not need to pay to support that child after a divorce or separation, except in limited circumstances. The Orange County family law attorneys at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP can help parents to understand the rules for child support and can fight on your behalf to ensure you get a fair outcome in the family court system.

What are the Child Support Obligations of Non-Biological Parents?

A non-biological parent is typically not going to be obligated to pay any type of child support after a separation or a divorce from the child’s biological parents. However, there is an exception of the child has been adopted.  Whether two parents adopted a child together or whether a step-parent adopted his or her partner’s child, the adoption means that the non-biological parent becomes responsible.

A divorce or separation does not undo an adoption, even if the adoption was a step-parent adoption. Adoption, once final, is permanent and the adoptive parent is treated just as a biological parent would be in terms of child support. This means that an adoptive parent cannot just walk away from the child or terminate his or her rights.

There may also be additional exceptions to the general rule that there are no child support obligations of non-biological parents. If a non-biological parent has put his name on a child’s birth certificate and claimed that child as his, that parent is typically going to have ongoing responsibilities to the child including a responsibility to pay child support after a separation.

When a couple is married and a child is born, the child is also presumed to belong to the husband and the husband may have support obligations when the marriage ends, even if the child turns out not to really be his. While a father could sometimes try to disestablish paternity, he would need to pay support unless or until the court changed an existing support order.

Because adoption can make someone personally responsible for child support, it is important to talk to a family law attorney and consider this responsibility carefully before adopting a child. A family law attorney can also provide legal representation to couples who are separating and divorcing. Your attorney can argue on your behalf regarding the issue of child support, as well as on other legal issues relevant to your breakup.

To learn more, contact the expert family lawyers at Brown & Charbonneau, LLP today.