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Forcing step parents to take on financial responsibility

Doorsy's picture

So this is a take off of the other post about a man marrying a woman and taking on her kid. I think it was posted by secret. Some people felt because a kid calls the man dad and he supports the household he should be financially responsible for the stepkid because bm never sought child support. So what happens when they divorce? For those who felt he took on the kid, is he now financially responsible for a kid he didn't make or is it okay to now get child support from real daddy? What happens when bm remarries and the new guy doesn't want the old guy involved? Does he have to pay and have no rights because he isn't the dad? I'm just curious and wanted to see what people who felt that way thought. I'm at work so I can't respond till tonight.


ETexasMom's picture

Or switch it around and have the BM run off when child is baby and SM supports the household. Does everyone feel the same if it's a SM instead of a Stepdad?

tankh21's picture

Wow...The Stepdad wants to take care of the skid then it is a totally voluntary. He shouldn't be financially responsible for a kid that isn't his unless he wants to be. Some people might think that just because a dad is on the birth certificate that he should be financially responsible for that kid as well then come to find out the kid isn't really his. I don't think that a man should have to suffer just because the mother was sleeping around.

Acratopotes's picture

Doorsy search for the poster kenny - read her blogs and then you would know what's happening...

and unfortunately the law states... if you take responsibility you are liable for future support, they say nothing about bio or step father...

on this site we have Dad's who raised children to be their own, then they divorce, the BM hooked up with another guy, and the father found out he was never the child's father to begin with, thus he was her step dad but he's still stuck with CS.... the bio Dad was demanding visitation but never sued for CS.....

everything might not be right in our view but the law is the law

AshMar654's picture

Every situation is different. I do not think that a step-parents should be responsible for a skid if they do not want to be. But step-parents still need to understand that if they contribute to a mortgage, and the every day bills they still support that kid to some extent.

I am a soon to be SM, my SO and I bought a house, he put all the money down and all the money in for the remodeling we did. I said I would pay the mortgage every month. He pays everything else and the for the food in the house. When he is tight I will pick up the groceries one week and that is that. We have SS9 24/7 because BM is not in the picture. Now SO has never said that I am financially responsible for the kid. I also understand that what I pay every moth helps provide a roof over his head and food in his belly and to be able to do all his activities (SO pays for all those too). SO does not receive any support from the BM and we plan to keep it that way as we do not need it.

In October we have decided we are going to look into me adopting SS9. As SO wants me to take SS if something ever happened to him and I am good with that. Yes I fully understand what that will mean. If SO and I divorced in the future I would be responsible for SS and need to support him but I would also get visitation and rights, if I do get approved to adopt.

No person should be financially responsible for a skid if they do not want to. If that person still chooses to be responsible after they divorce that is their choice. I think it would be smart to have something in writing stating if they still give money they should also still be able to see the kid. If they BM just wants to be totally done and kick the ex aside no matter what not much the step-parent can do in that situation other than higher a lawyer. It is all so tricky and unfortunately not so black in white.

Dontfeedthetrolls's picture

There are laws in place in some places to protect the state (not the kid). Basicly the state says that if a man has been acting as the father for a reasonable amount of time he can be required to support the child finically.

Basicly if he accepted the responsibility for x period of time he doesn't get to just drop it out of nowhere.

Normally this does not apply to a stepfather who would lose all parental rights if he and BM were to break up.

But in the case of a baby that grew up knowing the man as dad the courts find the man should remain legally responsible. Many times it also allows a man who thought a child was his to maintain his prental rights even if it comes out he wasn't.

The courts also say it's better for the child mentally to maintain that child/ male parent bond even if it's not biological.

Think of it this way. My SO has an 8 and 5 year old. BM popped off once about the kids not being his during a fight when the youngest was still a baby. He chose not to check DNA. Legally he could try to shed his responsibility but the kids have known him as dad. He is their father. If BM said tomorrow that the kids weren't his he would fight to maintain his rights because he spent the last 8 years acting in good faith as their dad.

The now if another man steps in and wants to take over the fincial responsibility and the first says fine not my kids the courts would likely allow it since the someone is still supporting the child. The court does not want to let the man go finically if it means the state may have to pay.

Every state is different and it's a huge fight. In some states women can put a man on the birth certificate without him even knowing then years later he can be hit for child support even after proving the child is not his.

The idea is to try and maintain the emotional bonds between children and parents be they blood or not but it does fall short. It's not a black or white issue and the court does act in the interest of the state and not the people invovled. Many times men are unfairly held responsible for a child they have no desire for.

But this issue is way thicker than just what you present and goes all the way into human rights. Historically men he the short end of the stick. A mother can easily walk away from a child it seems even choosing not to have a child even if the father wants it but a man doesn't get that right. A woman can trick a man into having a kid he never consented to creating and then he is forced to support the child.

The issue presented in the other post is also alot deeper because the mother knew who the dad was and she choose to walk away until she felt different. Some people claim the dad should have ensured the child was not his but the issue isn't that easy. A mom can know who a father is but a father doesn't know 100% unless DNA is done and many men have been lied into supporting a child that wasn't theirs. As people said had reason to believe the child wasn't his and after all why didn't mom go after him if she knew.

The other man stepped in and knew the kid wasn't his but got to enjoy the privlages of being a dad for 9 years. He also supported the child but that was his choice. For 9 years that family was good enough for everyone involved but now 9 years later it's not and a man who child reasonably doubt the child was his is now being gone after for nothing but money. 9 years have past and this child has called another man dad. Real dad will NEVER be able to create the same bond had BM done right 9 years ago. The child was cared for without him and many believe it should remain that way.

Should the current acting dad be expected to continue to support? I personally think yes. He was never forced into the position. He chose to and now he decides nevermind. Change this story a little biodad is a druggie and acting father would happily adopt the child and continue to support. The only reason he isn't now is because he sees that there is someone else who can pay for his child. Because in my mind after raising the kid for 9 years being there from her birth it is his kid.

If he wants to walk away completely it's a different story maybe but the man intends to keep his relationship with his daughter but just want someone else to pay for it and that's not right. I'd also support him keeping rights to the child if him and BM broke up and she did get with "real" dad because it would be harmful to the child to lose that connection with the man she considers her father.

So it's two separate things. Should men be forced to pay for children they have no desire to have just because mom wants it? Should a child lose a connection to a man who has raised them and been their dad despite blood just because mom and dad break up?

Women have an unfair advantage when it comes to children and parental rights. We give them all the power and believe all the man is good for is money and it's not right to anyone.

Teas83's picture

I know someone who was a step father to his wife's child. They split up and she went after him for child support and won. She was also still receiving child support from her child's biological father. It was determined that because the step father had improved the child's standard of living, he was responsible for keeping her standard of living up. I live in Alberta, Canada. I'm not sure if this has happened elsewhere.

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

I have feelings on this matter... LOL

I think most of you know, I financially support my skids, BM does s*** nothing but cause drama and issues on the rare occasion she pops in. I LOVE my skids, like genuinely, would totally adopt if the opportunity came up, kind of love. They're mine in every way but legally (okay and genetically...) However, the support I give is TOTALLY my choice, I've recently cut back a bit and pushed more onto DH, but I'm even paying for the custody lawyer. A step-parent has nearly ZERO legal rights, and unless they're planning on giving that to the step-parent, then that's not the responsibility of the step-parent to provide for the kid, that's on the two bio-parents who created this child, having a step-parent who cares is a bonus, but not a guaranteed.

As a side note, if a bio-parent vanishes for YEARS, and the stepparent is raising them, and is willing to continue doing so without the support of the bio-parent, I think parental rights should be a bit easier to lose for the good of the kid, and in a situation like that a step-parents should be given the opportunity to adopt (not even for me, I don't think we're QUITE to that point at all on my side... She still technically pops in to remind the girl's she's there, even if it hurts them whenever she does.) Then if the step-parent receives rights, then regardless of divorce, heck yes they're responsible for that child now! But if you didn't receive rights, I guess they still could if they wanted to, but chances are they won't receive ANY visitation, it's not legally theirs, why should they be financially responsible?

In the case of waiting FOREVER to go after someone for CS. I don't think that should be allowed. If you're raising the kid as your own and didn't bother to go after it for help initially, then I don't see why someone should be magically expected 10 years later to throw money (especially in cases where the parent had ZERO clue they had the child!)... I think if you want CS then some level of responsibility to file for that near the beginning should have to happen. This whole "delayed responsibility" thing isn't benefiting the kid at all... And if you go after it later when they haven't had any contact I worry that they kid will start to feel more like a pay-day than anything else... I've watched BM, her mom literally pays her to see the girls for a few hours... And it hurts them... BM will show up with some new thing, nothing for them, ignore them, I mean on Christmas she made them just sit in the back of the car for an hour then told us she was "done with them." And I really don't know if that's fair to the child... Let alone if the parent has been estranged for 10 years and all the sudden the other parent wants CS. But that's probably just a silly view... BM has only been gone (consistently, she would skip weeks at a time before that and we had them 3/4+) for seven months. But honestly I don't give two s***s about some payout on CS. The girls are worth more than that, and yes we're now planning on using CS as a bargaining chip more or less to keep her away from the girls until she's at least cleaned up... But I don't get going after them years later, especially when you've been doing fine prior. Best interest of the kid may not be the CS at that point.

I don't know if there's a solid answer for everything, if someone abandons then I think CS should be filed for right then and there... Because choosing to ditch a kid doesn't absolve you of responsibility... I think if you wait (particularly leaning towards years) it's like saying "I don't need you." and then magically deciding "jk jk, I need your money b****."

sunshinex's picture

I'm in a province where it's legal to have a stepparent pay support if they've stood "in loco parentis" IE acting in place of a parent. It pisses me off. I used to refuse to do anything for SD because I wasn't about to be held liable if we ever broke up. As our relationship improved, I had a heart to heart with DH and he was actually just as pissed off as I was about the whole situation. He said it's ridiculous to expect someone to pay support for a child they didn't choose to create. So I'm really happy he's on board!

I would never want visitation or anything, so why should I pay support? It just seems totally unfair to me. I can understand situations where the BM or BD passed away when the child was an infant and someone else essentially raised the child from infancy AND wants visitation/rights after the divorce. But in situations like mine, it would be entirely legal to make me pay support simply because BM never did her job so I had no choice but to have SD look at me as a mother. I didn't ask for it, it's just how it worked...

secret's picture

Same here - if a step parent acts as parent to the child, they can be held somewhat responsible in the event of a marriage breakdown.

While I "support" ss, I "support" ss with the money that DH provides to the household.

While I do do things for ss, I don't "step in as parent".

lieutenant_dad's picture

I am a firm believer in no responsibility without rights. If a NCP knows they have a kid and willingly walks away, I see zero issue in getting CS, both current and back, from them. If NCP doesn't know and can prove they didn't know, they shouldn't have to pay back CS, but a case could be made that they pay current CS (though, this is one of the few situations where I think a viable option is terminating rights, especially if it has been YEARS and YEARS of no contact).

I don't agree with compulsory paternity through marriage. I think all men should take a paternity test when a child is born, and if they are NOT the BD, they shouldn't be responsible for the care of the child. No responsibility and no rights. They basically become a SF. If paternity testing became compulsory and a biological connection had to be determined to establish paternal rights, I think a lot more men would get way less screwed.

As far as stepparents stepping in, that to me is a voluntary act. They may get the feel-good benefits of being a "bonus" parent, but they get none of the financial and legal. They can't claim the child as a dependent if they get divorced. They can't acquire visitation or custody. They have NO RIGHTS to the child, and therefore shouldn't be given responsibility. Now, if the courts want to start allowing some stepparent rights, then I may change my tune.

Ultimately, this becomes an issue with women and men trying to play the system. If you choose the breed with a deadbeat, then don't be surprised when they continue to be a deadbeat. It is no one else's responsibility to take care of your kids except yours and the other parent. If you decide to hide your pregnancy from the BD (assuming this isn't a rape/abuse situation) and never tell him he had a kid, don't go back years later demanding back CS. If your a father or mother who knows you have kids but skip off anyway, you're financial comeuppance is justified. Basically, don't have kids with people who won't support them, and then don't try to sucker someone else into helping you because you don't want to do it alone. If yo can't fathom the idea of being a single parent, then don't have kids. It's the same advice I give to stepparents who can't fathom their step kids living with them full time. Sh!t happens, and if you can't handle that possibility, don't take the risk.

sunshinex's picture

This is a great point. Prior to having my baby, one of my first considerations was "would I be able to afford daycare and anything else needed to raise my child and work full time if I become single?" because even though I'm in a happy marriage and I trust that my husband would step up IF we split, being unable to afford my child is a risk i'm unwilling to take. I would never want to struggle raising a child alone. I never understood people having 2 kids because their boyfriend works a high paying trade or something... The amount of girls I know in their 20s having kids without having any education past high school or even a minimum wage job, they just trust that their crappy boyfriend's got it, it;s awful...

ProbablyAlreadyInsane's picture

LT. Thank you for being so dang level-headed. I agree with you. Stepparents is voluntary, so that shouldn't be completely relied on, UNLESS stepparents somehow get actual rights. Because if the rights happen, then yeah, you have a kid, but even that should be on a voluntary basis imho.

Last night DH told MIL about the issue with insurance. She said "well use it as a learning experience. Don't give crazy people rights they shouldn't have and get rid of them quicker." I was dying, literally in full on laughter. But she's not wrong. If you don't want to risk the issues later, then think things through first. Because a crazy person is probably going to remain as such.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Lt Dad, what is your opinion on this scenario?

The bio mom fornicates with several men and ends up pregnant. She has no idea who fathered the child. In fact, she has no idea how to track down those men because, well, she's a ho! She doesn't even know the last names of most/all of these men (or even if the first names they gave her are their actual names).

If a man steps in and raises the child, should HE be held accountable for CS if he and the bio mom divorce?

lieutenant_dad's picture

Nope. No rights = no responsibility. Now, I do think it should be easier for men to terminate rights if they believed they were the father but the BM knew otherwise and didn't say anything. At that point, I think the man should have a choice to remain the father or terminate his rights (and visitation).

But if a guy knows and chooses? Until he adopts that child, he has no responsibility to it at any point in their lives.

witch.hazel's picture

Really a pet peeve of mine when custodial parents don't seek child support while letting a step parent pay for the child's needs. They are literally using a well meaning person because they are too lazy and avoidant to go through the temporary stress of filing and getting an order.

Aniki-Moderator's picture

Or in BioHo's case, getting the full (real?) names of all the men they've screwed so all can have a paternity test to determine which one is the father...

WTF...REALLY's picture

What frustrates me about our system is colleges make the step parent liable.

Since hubby and I file our taxes together, they make his income count even though I share custody with my ex.

So....they have made 3 people’s income count. That’s not right. How do colleges even know if a step parent will help out??????

secret's picture

Here's one for you...

our child tax benefits... they're based on our income...

I get a certain amount based on my salary, which then comes to me at the custody % rate of actual custody. Same with my ex.

(It used to be that the lower earning income could claim, which we used to do, and split it... but the tax laws changed.)

Now that I'm married - my amount goes down, because it's HOUSEHOLD income, not MY income.

Really, tax people? Then tell me... why is it that it goes down because another adult is apparently expected to support my children, yet it won't go up because I'm supporting another child? :?

notasm3's picture

I would NEVER have married DH if SS32 was a minor. I might not have even dated him. As I did not have children I used to fantasize a scenario where I married a man with children and acquired grandchildren that way. HELL NO.

I want nothing to do with SS32 or his child. The child is innocent. I wish him well - and he's going to need a lot of goodwill as his parents are worthless. But it's not my responsibility to fix that. Unfortunately there are thousands of children born to worthless parents every day.