The Duty of Stepparents to Support their Stepchildren


When filing for divorce in Pasadena, most people aren't planning to remarry immediately. However, a large number of divorcees do eventually remarry. Being part of a blended family creates unique challenges that should be taken into consideration before tying the knot.

Under common law, stepparents do not have a financial responsibility to support stepchildren. So if both the stepparent and the child's biological parent are working, only the income of the child's biological parent should be considered for child support purposes. However, if the child's biological parent is willfully unemployed, it might be possible to have an imputed income used to create a child support order.

Imputed income is based on the biological parent's past earning history, level of education, and marketable job skills. It's an estimate of what he or she would earn if working. Unfortunately, since the biological parent is not working, child support orders based on imputed income are essentially the responsibility of the stepparent.

If the child's stepparent has assets that affect the biological parent's expenses, this could be used as the basis of a change in circumstances request for adjusting child support amounts. For example, if the stepparent owns a home with no mortgage payment, this reduces the biological parent's living expenses by eliminating the need to pay for shelter.

If a child's biological parent and his or her stepparent have additional children, this would decrease the amount of child support that is owed because the additional children would represent an increase in the biological parent's expenses.

Adoption, of course, is completely different from the traditional stepparent relationship. Adopting a child means that a stepparent is taking on all the same rights and responsibility he or she would have as a biological parent.

How Can We Help?

Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at if you have questions about how remarriage affects a parent's support obligation. Our Pasadena family law firm is committed to helping resolve child support concerns as quickly and efficiently as possible.