Step-parents and others with a parent-like relationship with the child

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Family Law - Child support
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ministry of the Attorney General

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Who pays child support?
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Step-parents and others with a parent-like relationship with the child

The law says that a person may be responsible for paying child support if they "stood in the place of a parent" to the child. This means that they had a parent-like relationship with the child. This might be, for example, a step-parent or the partner of a parent.

A parent-like relationship

The court looks to see if the person has a parent-like relationship with child. For example:

  • How does the child feel about their relationship with the person?
  • Does the child take part in the extended family in the same way as any other child?
  • Does the person provide financially for the child to the best of their ability?
  • Does the person discipline the child?
  • Does the person talk about themselves in the family and community as a responsible parent to the child?
  • What relationship (if any) does the child have with the parent who does not have custody?

It does not matter if the partners are married or in a common-law relationship. If the court finds that the step-parent had a parent-child relationship with the child, they may have to pay child support.

When another parent is already paying child support

A step-parent might have to pay child support even when another parent is already paying child support. More than one parent can have a legal duty to pay child support for the same child. For example. the birth parent and a step-parent might both pay child support for the same child.

But, the court may order the step-parent to pay an amount of child support that is different from the Child Support Guidelines and the Government of Canada’s child support tables.

Some judges look at the table amount and deduct the birth or biological parent's support from the step-parent's support. Other judges order the step-parent to pay the full table amount.

The judge makes a decision based on the facts of your situation.

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Department of Justice Canada
Reviewed: March 1, 2018

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