In most divorces involving children, one parent gets primary custody and the other parent ends up paying child support. If you do not have a child of your own, but you have a stepchild by marriage, is the arrangement the same? Obviously, the court would award custody to their biological parent, and then you would have to pay child support. Right? Well, that is not necessarily what is going to happen. The courts can see the obligations of parents and stepparents quite differently, and our Union County child support attorneys could tell you how that can affect your arrangements with your former spouse and their children.
Can the Court Order Me to Pay Support for a Stepchild?
It is actually quite rare for a stepparent to be ordered to pay child support after a divorce. This is true even if there is a large difference between the income of the two spouses.
Even though the stepparent likely acted as a parent during the marriage, offering both emotional and material support to their stepchild, they are not the biological parent. As such, a stepparent is generally not seen as having an obligation to continue supporting a stepchild once a divorce has gone through.
Keep in mind that you can still be ordered to pay spousal support, also known as alimony. A child support order is unlikely though.
Do I Have Any Parental Rights After the Divorce?
Just as you have no legal obligation after the divorce, you do not have any legal rights either. We are sure that you formed an important bond with your stepchild and most judges would understand, but they would not grant you visitation or any other rights traditionally given to noncustodial parents after a divorce.
Sometimes spouses can work out some kind of arrangement where the stepchild gets to spend some time with their former stepparent. You should not expect the court to step in and force such an arrangement though.
What if I Adopted My Stepchild?
If you adopted your stepchild, that can change things. You can only adopt if a biological parent has passed away or given up their own parental rights. If this is the case and you decide to formally adopt your stepchild, that affects your rights and obligations.
It is likely that you would have to pay child support for an adopted stepchild. At the same time, you could have parental rights not afforded to most stepparents. If you want to fight for rights like visitation, the driven attorneys from our law firm might be able to help you.
Speak to Our Family Lawyers
When you are looking for experienced family law lawyers who can answer all of your questions, contact Ross & Calandrillo, LLC. We can schedule an appointment and help you fight for the best possible outcome.