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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Ministry of the Attorney General
Department of Justice
Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)
When can a parent pay less child support?
The law says that step-parents may be responsible for paying child support where the child is a "child of the marriage" and the step-parent treated the child as a member of their own family.
The court looks to see if the step-parent has a parent-like relationship with their partner's child. For example:
- How does the child feel about their relationship with the step-parent?
- Does the child take part in the extended family in the same way as a biological child?
- Does the step-parent provide financially for the child to the best of their ability?
- Does the step-parent discipline the child?
- Does the step-parent talk about themselves as a responsible parent to the child, the family, and the larger community?
- What relationship does the child have with their absent biological parent?
Step-parents can pay child support even when the absent biological parent is already paying child support. This means that more than one parent can have a legal duty to pay child support for the same child.
Some judges look at the table amount and deduct the 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.
For example, the more time that passes after separation and the end of the relationship, the less likely the court may order the step-parent to pay child support. This is especially true if the social and emotional relationship with the child has ended.
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Reviewed: August 31, 2017