Whether you are just starting a relationship with someone who already has a child or are ending a relationship with someone who has a child, it is important to know what you should, could, and would be responsible for.

You might be held responsible for child support if you are qualified as common-law partners and are qualified to be labelled as spouses. To qualify as a spouse, you must be living together with your partner in a marriage-like relationship for at least 2 years, married to your partner, or have a child with your partner. Furthermore, if you begin taking on the financial liability of your partner’s child, you might have to continue this after the relationship has ended.

Although according to Section 147(4) of the Family Law Act, a step parent does not bear the duty to provide for a child  unless the step parent contributed to the support of the child for at least one year, and the court proceeding for child support is started after the within one year of the last contribution of the step-parent. Section 147(5) of the Family Law Act says that the support of a step-parent is secondary to the child’s parents and guardians. Support from a step-parent would be based on the experienced standard of living of the child as well as the length of time lived with the step-parent.

In short, you cannot be responsible for your partner’s child/ren unless you have been taking on the role of being their parent while in the relationship or contributing to the child’s financial support on a regular basis for an extended period of time. That means that you should be cautious to voluntarily take on a parent role if you are not serious about the relationship yet or do not want to be chased for child support for the child in the future! You can give gifts, treats, and provide meals for the child but do not assume the financial liability of the child if you do not want to continue this financial responsibility after the relationship.

If you or a loved one are in need of advice regarding child support for a step-child, consult Vancouver and Burnaby Family Law lawyer Andrew Rebane at Resolutions Law Corporation, Burnaby, British Columbia at [email protected] or 778-372-7107.