By: Lorne Fine
Question – Can I be liable for child support even though I am not the biological parent of a child?
Answer – A biological parent will be liable for child support for a dependent child in most cases. If there is any doubt that a father is the child’s biological father, a court can order that this person attend for DNA testing to determine if he is the child’s biological father.
Paternity testing is a fairly easy process. The father first attends at the DNA laboratory. The father presents photo identification and has his photograph taken at the lab. He then gets a swab taken of the inside of his cheek. The mother then attends at the DNA laboratory with the Child and indentifies the alleged father by his photograph. The lab technician then obtains an oral swab from the child. If the child is unable or unwilling to attend at the lab, a DNA sample from the child can be obtained from a number of sources (eg. toothbrush, used Kleenex, blood sample etc.). DNA tests are very accurate. It is possible that if a father refuses to provide a DNA sample, a court could draw an adverse inference and deem the father responsible to pay child support for the Child. This is especially the case where there is other corroborating evidence to support the conclusion that the father is the biological parent of the Child (ie. circumstances of the parties relationship, when they had sex etc.).
Some fathers are quite surprised that they will be liable for child support for a Child eventhough they have no relationship with the Child. The biological father cannot sever his relationship with the child (unless they consent to an adoption of the child by a step-father). Furthermore, some fathers are also surprised to learn that they will be liable for child support for a child even if they did not intend to have a child. The right to child support is the right of the child. He/she did not ask to be brought into this world and the biological parents must be responsible for their financial care.
A person can also be liable for child support for his/her dependent child if he/she has assumed the role of a parent for the child. This person is deemed to be in loco parentis to the child (or stands in the place of a parent to the child). In determining whether or a not a person stands in loco parentis to a child, a court will examine various aspects of the child’s relationship with the adult, including, but not limited to, the following:
(a) financial connection;
(b) social interaction;
(c) emotional interaction;
(d) role in discipline;
(e) role in education; etc.
The longer the parent’s relationship and interaction with the Child, the more likely that a parent will be deemed to be in loco parentis with the Child. However, the courts have also found that a person does not have to be considered loco parentis to a child just because he/she was being pleasant to the Child. It is important to note that it is not be possible to enter into a Domestic Agreement with a parent that provides the future spouse/partner will not be deemed to stand in loco parentis to the Child. You cannot contact out of your obligation to pay child support.
Potential future child support obligations should be a serious consideration if you are involved in a relationship with someone who has a child. You have to carefully consider the implications of marrying or living with someone who is a parent and is caring for a child. If there is a future breakdown of the relationship, it is very possible that you may be deemed to have a support obligation for your former partner’s child as long as the child is considered a dependent.
The Lawyers of Fine & Associates Professional Corporation practice only Divorce and Family Law in Ontario. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of Divorce law, including, but not limited to, child support, child custody, and property division. They pride themselves on their knowledge of the various courts in Ontario and, have litigated many different cases. In every case, their focus is on their clients and they are dedicated to aggressively protecting their rights so that all matters are resolved quickly and fairly.
The information herein is provided for information purposes only, is not intended as legal advice, and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If If you have any questions, regarding family or divorce law see www.Torontodivorcelaw.com . You can also contact Lorne Fine at 416-661-2066 or Lfine@Torontodivorcelaw .com.