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    Purplehaze12802's Avatar
    Purplehaze12802 Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #1

    Dec 4, 2008, 10:23 AM
    Can a step-parent be forced to pay child support for their spouses child?
    My friend's husband has a child from a previous relationship that she just recently found out about. He has no relationship with this child but has been paying child support for the past 2 1/2 yrs. The child is presently 6yrs old.

    She has heard through a someone that knows the mother of the child that she is planning to go back to court and ask for an inrease in support. The mother has made statements that she plans to sue my friend as well for support along with her husband. Can she do this? Can their combined income be calculated to determine the amount of support she gets for her child?

    I don't think my friend should be forced to pay for a child that is not hers. This is her husband's problem, isn't it? He doesn't even want anything to do with this child! Is there anything that they can do to stop this?
    GirlWSlingshot's Avatar
    GirlWSlingshot Posts: 224, Reputation: 21
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    #2

    Dec 4, 2008, 10:57 AM

    I'm no legal expert, but typically, when you marry someone, their problems become yours.

    What state are they in?
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #3

    Dec 4, 2008, 11:06 AM
    Quote Originally Posted by Purplehaze12802 View Post
    My friend's husband has a child from a previous relationship that she just recently found out about. He has no relationship with this child but has been paying child support for the past 2 1/2 yrs. The child is presently 6yrs old.

    She has heard through a someone that knows the mother of the child that she is planning to go back to court and ask for an inrease in support. The mother has made statements that she plans to sue my friend as well for support along with her husband. Can she do this? Can their combined income be calculated to determine the amount of support she gets for her child?

    I don't think my friend should be forced to pay for a child that is not hers. This is her husband's problem, isn't it? He doesn't even want anything to do with this child! Is there anything that they can do to stop this?

    In some States the HOUSEHOLD income (not the income of the parent) is considered. Hard to know without knowing the State.

    As far as the father not wanting anything to do with the child, no Court will force him to have contacted. All he's expected to do is support the child. Stop it? No. Parents are legally responsible for the financial support of their children.

    You are misunderstanding the language of the Court - no one sues anyone. The mother files a Petition or request or motion for more support or an evaluation of existing support. There is no lawsuit.
    cadillac59's Avatar
    cadillac59 Posts: 1,326, Reputation: 94
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    #4

    Dec 4, 2008, 11:51 AM

    As others have indicated the answer to your question (about calculating child support) depends upon the state you are in.

    In some states a step-parent can be liable for the support of a step-child; however the exact treatment probably varies (in other words income between a couple is not necessarily added to create a new basis setting child support).

    In other states a step-parent can only be liable if the person has become a de-facto parent to the child, that is taken on the day-to-day caretaking role of the child's parent and done so for a substantial period (this is sometimes called "parentage by estoppel).

    By way of example, California does not recognize step-parent liability for the support of step-children except through the parentage-by-estopple doctrine, which is fairly difficult to establish and uncommon. Additionally, new mate income is excluded in calculating child support under California's child support guideline (we do not tack on a new spouse's income to the support obligor's in calculating support). We do have a very rare exception to this rule that no one has ever seen applied in our state and is fair to treat as almost non-existant.

    What we do (and the court must) consider in calculating child support is the tax effect of new mate income. In other words, if your friend and her husband lived in California and filed a joint tax return, and your friend earned as much or more than her husband, his child support would actually DROP. People are usually amazed to hear this since the rule is counterintuitive. But the reason for this is simple: Recall we have an after-tax guideline (in other words the child support formula is applied after taxes are taken out) which means that the more net income a person has the more child support he pays. Since we cannot use new mate income to calculate the gross income of the child support obligor but must consider tax consequences of the filing of a joint return (that is that the support obligor is responsible for half the taxes on the new mate's income) it's like the support obligor is treated as being in a higher tax bracket for child support purposes. When the computer program runs the support calculation it sees the support obligor has having a lower net income and therefore produces a lower child support obligation.

    So the rule in California is that if you want to lower your child support marry a person who makes more money than you and file a joint return. If you marry someone who doesn't work and you file a joint return your support goes up.
    Purplehaze12802's Avatar
    Purplehaze12802 Posts: 3, Reputation: 1
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    #5

    Dec 4, 2008, 01:46 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by GirlWSlingshot View Post
    I'm no legal expert, but typically, when you marry someone, their problems become yours.

    What state are they in?
    New York
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #6

    Dec 4, 2008, 01:54 PM

    There are other threads where this has also been discussed.

    As Judy mentioned, there is no suing anyone. The mother can ask for a modification in support and ask that total household income be used to calculate support. If the state laws allow that, then that's what is going to happen.
    cdad's Avatar
    cdad Posts: 12,687, Reputation: 1438
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    #7

    Dec 4, 2008, 04:10 PM

    For those interested this is the formula for California child support.
    The California legislature adopted an algebraic formula to calculate child support on July 1, 1992. The child support resulting from the use of the formula is presumed by the Court to be correct. To ensure accuracy, child support is usually calculated by a computer. The formula is as follows:

    CS= K [HN- (H%) (TN)], where:

    CS is the amount of child support;

    K is a factor of both parent's income allocated for child support. This varies depending upon the number of children to be supported;

    HN is the high earner's net monthly disposable income;

    H% is the high-earner's approximate time of physical responsibility for the child (children);

    TN is the parties' combined total monthly net disposable income.
    cdad's Avatar
    cdad Posts: 12,687, Reputation: 1438
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    #8

    Dec 4, 2008, 08:28 PM

    Comments on this post
    JudyKayTee agrees: Thanks - that's easy to understand, straight forward.

    Leave it to the government to redistribute wealth and this is what they came up with. Lol

    Do we have rocket scientists here ?
    cadillac59's Avatar
    cadillac59 Posts: 1,326, Reputation: 94
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    #9

    Dec 5, 2008, 04:29 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by califdadof3 View Post
    Comments on this post
    JudyKayTee agrees: Thanks - that's easy to understand, straight forward.

    Leave it to the government to redistribute wealth and this is what they came up with. lol

    Do we have rocket scientists here ?
    You're not the first to express bewilderment with respect to California's child support formula (a few appellate justices have done the same in the past in some published opinions). But, in defense of it I think it is fair- not necessarily because of the result of every calculation but because it takes into account a multitude of factors other states' guidelines don't. Compare Nevada's simple formula for example (something like 17% of the gross income of the low time parent for one child) and think California's is much better. I was able to get a Nevada child support order invalidated once for one of my clients (in California) and a California order put in its place that reduced support for my client by about 40%.

    Even though our CS guideline produces often high results, the flip side is that CS terminates earlier than in other states (which leads some to refer to our guideline as "front-loaded"- you pay more up front but it doesn't last as long).
    JudyKayTee's Avatar
    JudyKayTee Posts: 46,505, Reputation: 4600
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    #10

    Dec 5, 2008, 06:22 PM
    Quote Originally Posted by cadillac59 View Post
    You're not the first to express bewilderment with respect to California's child support formula (a few appellate justices have done the same in the past in some published opinions). But, in defense of it I think it is fair- not necessarily because of the end result of every calculation but because it takes into account a multitude of factors other states' guidelines don't. Compare Nevada's simple formula for example (something like 17% of the gross income of the low time parent for one child) and think California's is much better. I was able to get a Nevada child support order invalidated once for one of my clients (in California) and a California order put in its place that reduced support for my client by about 40%.

    Even though our CS guideline produces often high results, the flip side is that CS terminates earlier than in other states (which leads some to refer to our guideline as "front-loaded"- you pay more up front but it doesn't last as long).

    In NY it's pretty much a straight percentage so people know at the very beginning what the "usual" result will be. I find that less complicated - of course, you still need proof of income and expenses (to the extent that they matter) but the whole divorce process seems faster than California's.

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