Hello, I’m Megan Jamieson, an associate with Feldstein Family Law Group. Today, I will be discussing Child Support and who has a responsibility to pay child support. It is a common misconception that a parent, who is biologically related to a child, has a child support obligation. However, even step-parents or grandparents may have an obligation to pay child support.
However, for the purposes of child support, the Divorce Act defines ‘a child of the marriage’ very broadly, it states:
2(1) “Child of the marriage” means a child of two spouses or former spouses, who, at the material time,
- is under the age of majority and who has not withdrawn from their charge, or
- is the age of majority or over and under their charge but unable, by reason of illness, disability or other cause, to withdraw from their charge or to obtain the necessaries of life
2(2) Child of the Marriage — for the purposes of the definition “child of the marriage” in subsection (1), a child of two spouses or former spouses includes:
- any child for whom they both stand in the place of parents; and
- any child of whom one is the parent and for whom the other strands in the place of a parent.
The Supreme Court of Canada in Chartier v Chartier,  SCJ No. 79, held that a finding for a party to be “in the place of a parent” is after an accounting of factors relevant to that determination, viewed objectively. The relevant factors in defining the parental relationship include, but are not limited to:
- whether the child’s participation in the extended family in the same way as would a biological child;
- whether the person provides financially for the child (depending on ability to pay);
- whether the person disciplines the child as a parent;
- whether the person represents to the child, the family, the world, either explicitly or implicitly, that he or she is responsible as a parent to the child; and
- the nature or existence of the child’s relationship with the absence biological parent.
Once it is shown that the child is to be considered, in fact, a “child of the marriage”, the obligations of the step-parent towards him or her have been crystalized with regard to the application of the Divorce Act. The step-parent, at this point, does not only incur obligations, he or she also acquires certain rights, such as the right to eventually apply for custody or access of the child under s. 16(1) of the Divorce Act.
Thank you for taking the time to listen today. If you require more information with respect to child support and wish to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at www.separation.ca or contact our office at 905-581-7222.