Most of the time, when a marriage ends and the couple has children, one parent is going to end up paying child support. This is not necessarily true in cases where one parent is actually a stepparent. If you have a stepchild and you get divorced, it is extremely unlikely that you will be ordered to pay any kind of child support. If there is any confusion over the matter, a Suffolk County child support lawyer from our firm may be able to assist you.
Do I Have Any Legal Obligations Towards My Former Stepchild?
In most cases, no. You do not have any legal obligations to a stepchild after a divorce. You may have acted as a parent in financial, emotional, and other capacities, but you are not the child’s parent in the eyes of the state. This means that you do not have to provide support for that child.
Exceptions can apply of course. An obvious factor here is adoption. Whether or not you adopted the child can have a big effect on your legal rights and obligations. If the biological parent of your stepchild has passed away or given up their parental rights and you have adopted the child as your own, it is likely that the court will tell you to pay child support.
Do I Have Legal Rights Like Visitation?
If you do not have legal obligations to your stepchild, you also do not have legal rights. Since you are not actually related to the child, you would not get court-mandated visitation time after a divorce. This can be disappointing if you feel that you have forged a strong bond with your stepchild, but there is usually nothing to be done here.
In some cases, a couple can work it out so that the stepchild and their former stepparent can spend some time together. A stepparent could also have rights if they adopted the child as their own.
Does New York Have Any Big Exceptions When It Comes to Stepchild Support?
It is important to note that there is one more significant factor that could determine a stepparent’s obligations after a divorce. In most cases, the biological parents would now be possible for supporting their own child. A former stepparent would not be obligated to contribute any money of their own.
However, in cases where biological parents cannot offer enough support, a court could order a stepparent to pay child support. This can occur when the stepchild would, despite the support of their biological parents, need to use public assistance of some sort. The court can then decide that a stepparent must provide a fair and reasonable sum to the stepchild, enough to keep them from being dependent on public programs.
Contact Our Law Firm
If there is any confusion about what your obligations to your stepchild are after a divorce, you should talk to an experienced family lawyer. Contact Peter V. Mandi & Associates, Inc. and schedule a consultation. We can look at your unique situation and help you figure everything out.