There are thousands of blended families in Massachusetts, and a fraction of them will eventually wind up in divorce court. When you marry someone who already has kids, those children become part of your family. Your attachment to them may have helped you remain committed to your spouse even as the marriage began to fall apart.
You may feel intense love for and a sense of responsibility toward your stepchildren. Still, you may worry about the financial implications that those children may have if you divorce their biological parent. Will you have to pay child support for stepchildren in a Massachusetts divorce?
Have you legally adopted your stepchildren?
If you made the decision to adopt your stepchildren, they became your legal children. Although you may not remain married so their mother, they will still be your kids after the divorce. You will have to work out a custody agreement with your ex and you might have an obligation to pay child support.
Did you execute an agreement that discussed stepchild support?
Many couples decide to create prenuptial or even postnuptial agreements to allow for simple and more painless divorces if their marriage ends. If you created a contract with your ex and included a promise to pay support despite not having a biological relationship to the children, it is possible that the courts will uphold that agreement.
Would you agree to support for the right to visitation?
If you haven’t adopted the children or made a formal, contractual promise to assist in their support after a divorce, chances are good that your ex won’t have grounds to compel you to pay support. In theory, you could walk away and never interact with them or the children again.
Still, you may find yourself wanting to spend time with your stepchildren and to remain a part of their life. Offering volitional support may be a way to secure visitation rights if your ex is otherwise unwilling to let you spend time with your stepchildren. You may be able to negotiate your own terms for an uncontested divorce that will reflect your unique family needs.