If you are a stepparent, it can be difficult to figure out just what your role is in the life of your stepchild. It can be difficult at times to know what your place is when it comes to issues like discipline, schooling, and planning for the future.
Even more awkward can be the effects that your income may pose when it comes to determining child support. While in California income is rarely used by the courts as a metric to decide custody issues, calculating child support can—in rare circumstances—be affected by stepparent income.
Navigating the laws that govern your divorce can be difficult, and you should call an experienced family attorney if you or a loved one are going through a child custody or family law matter.
Stepparents Obligations for Visitation and Custody
For better or worse, stepparents’ legal obligations to their stepchildren are very narrowly defined. This is because the courts will often prioritize the rights of birth parents over those of the stepparent.
One example of this is how the courts may (but are not required to) grant visitation rights to a stepparent, so long as the visitation rights do not conflict with the visitation rights of a birth parent.1
When it comes to child custody, courts focus on what is in the best interests of the child. This includes looking at a multitude of factors including how stable the proposed arrangements would be, the capacity of the parents to give love and affection, and parent cooperation in child care.2 The income of a stepparent is rarely used as a determining factor, and so the income of a stepparent will typically not help or become hindrance to gaining child custody.
Can Stepparent Income Affect Child Support?
A stepparent’s income is not usually a factor in determining child support payment amounts. In California, child support is determined by a complex formula which takes into account each parent’s income, how much time the child spends with each parent, and potential tax deductions.3
However, stepparent income can be factored into the calculating of child support payments under what California calls “extraordinary circumstances.”
The term “extraordinary circumstances” is defined under California Family Code Section 4057.5 as when the exclusion of the stepparent’s income would produce extreme or severe hardship on the child.4 This can include situations where a parent voluntarily quits work or reduces their income, or when they intentionally remain unemployed and rely on the stepparent’s income.5
In instances where the stepparent has biological children of their own, a hardship deduction based on expenses from caring for that child can be made to the amount that the court includes in the original child support determination.6
Call a Wallin & Klarich Child Support Attorney Today
Child support and custody battles can be incredibly stressful, and California’s complex set of laws can be very difficult to understand. Hiring an experienced Wallin & Klarich family law attorney can help. Our child support attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully handling all types of child support matters.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich attorney can help you no matter your location.
Call us at (888) 749-7428 for a free telephone consultation. We will get through this together.