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Do You Have to Pay Support for the Step-Child Who Won’t Speak to You?

Needless to say, child support cases can involve an array of different scenarios and permutations:  Some are more run-of-the-mill than others.   Among the less-common scenarios involves the question of whether a step-parent must pay support for a step-child; another involves the issue of whether support is still owed if the child is estranged from the support-paying parent.  

In a very recent Ontario family law case case called Hari v. Hari, 2013 ONSC 5562, the court was asked to consider both of these more unusual factors at once.

In that case, the husband and wife decided to divorce after being married for eight years and living together for four years before that.  They had one child together, but the wife had another child from a prior relationship. The husband had treated that step-child as his own for the entire 12 years that the couple were together.  The step-child’s own biological father was in arrears on child support.

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As I’ve written the past child custody posts, in many cases a step-parent may be obliged to pay child support even for a non-biological step-child, provided the step-parent has showed a settled intention to treat that child as his or her own.

But the wrinkle in Hari v. Hari was that relationship between the step-child and the husband had completely broken down after the separation. 

The question for the court, then, was whether the husband should nonetheless be required to pay child support for a step-child, and one with whom he no longer had a parent/child connection.

In this case, the court took into account all the legal and situational factors, and ordered the husband to pay the full Child Support Guidelines amount for the step-child.   In doing so, it made a point to say that the broken relationship between them was irrelevant to whether the husband had to pay.

Should a parent be required to pay support for a child with whom there is no relationship?  Should step-parents have to pay support for their step-children?  What are your thoughts?


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