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When a relationship or marriage dissolves, the obligation to financially support children remains. This responsibility most often falls to the parents. Where another adult has stood in the place of the parent, that adult may have to pay child support. Learn more about the criteria used in determining whether an adult has stood in the place of a parent.

What is child support?

Child support refers to payments made by one parent or guardian to another. These payments provide financial support for the benefit of the child or children.

Who must pay Child support?

Under law, you must financially support a child if you

  • are the child’s biological or adoptive parent
  • are a stepparent that has acted like a parent
  • are an adult that has acted like a parent

The law states that the actual parents’ obligations outweigh those of someone standing in the place of the parent. However, a judge, at his or her discretion, can determine whether a stepparent or other adult is standing in the place of a parent. A judge can then order that individual to pay child support.

How does a judge determine who is standing in the place of a parent?

An adult may be deemed to be standing in the place of a parent if her or she

  • married the child’s parent
  • was in some form of permanent, interdependent relationship with the child’s other parent

You are standing in the place of a parent if you demonstrated a settled intention to treat the child as your own based on

  • the child’s age
  • the length of your relationship with the child
  • the nature of your relationship with the child
  • the child’s relationship with any of the other parents
  • any direct or indirect financial support you provided the child
  • your attempts to keep in touch with the child after the separation
  • your involvement in the child’s care, discipline, education or recreational activities
  • your thoughts of changing, or efforts to change, the child’s surname to your surname
  • your thoughts of becoming, or efforts to become, the child’s guardian, adoptive parent

Child support and family law can be complicated. Understanding the law, as well as your options, is an important first step. Consult with the Lift Legal team of family lawyers.



The information on this blog and website is provided by Lift Legal for educational purposes only. It is intended to give readers a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. Information contained in these pages should not be used in place of competent legal advice from a licensed, practising lawyer in Alberta. Furthermore, by using this blog and website, you understand that no lawyer-client relationship exists between you and Lift Legal.

Mel Garbe

Mel founded Lift Legal with the goal of delivering cost effective legal services without sacrificing capability by effectively using modern tools to access the types of resources that larger law firms have access to. The result being that Lift Legal provides high level professional services at a greater value.

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