Limited Child Support for Stepchildren

A stepparent has no legal obligation to support a stepchild under common law; however, twenty states (Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont and Washington) have statutes requiring a stepparent to support stepchildren. These statutes are codifications of the doctrine of in loco parentis, which holds that an adult who voluntarily acts as a parent assumes the obligation of support, but no statute or interpretation of in loco parentis requires that a stepparent support a stepchild when the stepparent and stepchild no longer live as a family. Of note is the presence or absence of a noncustodial natural parent (who is usually a father) is not critical to establishing an in loco parentis obligation.

Most states do not consider stepchildren to be children of a subsequent marriage in support guidelines.



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