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Do I have to pay child support for my stepchild in New Jersey?

In recent years, blended families have become more popular and socially acceptable. Many stepparents take on the same roles and responsibilities as biological parents. A stepparent can provide emotional and financial support to their spouse’s children from prior relationships for many years while married to their parents. Stepparents often wonder whether they are liable for paying child support for their stepchildren in the event of a divorce. Please keep reading to learn whether stepparents are legally obligated to provide child support for their stepchild in New Jersey, and discover how a qualified Ocean County Child Support Attorney can help you today. 

Who is liable for paying child support in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, a child’s biological parents are legally obligated to provide financial support for their children’s basic needs. They are liable for providing financial support until the child has reached emancipation. This age is assumed to be 19 in New Jersey, but it can extend beyond this age into college under certain circumstances. When parents divorce, they are still obligated to provide their children with financial support, which is why one parent will provide their former spouse with child support. Child support is a court-ordered maintenance payment that covers general expenses such as child care, healthcare, and other costs to provide for the child’s necessities.

Is a stepparent liable to pay child support for their stepchild?

In most cases, a stepparent is not required to pay child support for a spouse’s child from a prior relationship. Under certain circumstances, the court may consider a stepparent’s annual income as it may significantly affect the amount of support that must be paid to a biological parent. However, they are not liable for paying child support for their stepchildren as they do not have parental rights. Stepparents are only responsible for child support if they have legally adopted their stepchildren. If a child’s biological parent relinquishes their parental rights and a stepparent adopts the child, they will be responsible for paying child support in case of a divorce. When they take on parental rights, their stepchildren are no longer considered stepchildren but rather their own children.

What if my ex remarries?

If you have adopted your stepchildren and the court requires you to pay child support, you will have to do so even if your former spouse remarries. Although existing spousal support orders automatically terminate due to remarriage. Child support orders do not end when one or both parents remarry. Therefore, you must continue to pay child support despite your former spouse’s new marriage. It is also critical to note that remarriage, under certain circumstances, could provide you with grounds to modify your existing order.

Contact the Law Office of Sarina Gianna, LLC today. Our firm is committed to helping parents understand whether they are liable for paying child support for their biological or stepchildren.