Tuesday, June 9, 2015


A step parent can be responsible for child support under the Family Court Act and the Social Services Law.

Section 415 of the Family Court Act which provides that a spouse or parent "of a recipient of public   assistance or care or of a person liable to become in need thereof or of   a patient in an institution in the department of mental hygiene,  if  of   sufficient  ability,  is  responsible  for the support of such person or   patient, provided that a  parent  shall  be  responsible  only  for  the  support  of  his  child  or  children  who  have not attained the age of twenty-one years."

The last sentence of this statue states: "Step-parents  shall  in  like  manner  be responsible for the support of children under the age of twenty-one years."

See Martel v Southampton Hosp. 2013 NY Slip Op 33096(U). November 29, 2013. Supreme Court, Suffolk County. Docket Number: 07-24175. Judge: Peter H. Mayer:
"Family Court Act § 415 and Social Services Law § 101 (1), each provide that the spouse or parent of a recipient of public assistance or a person liable to become in need thereof, if of sufficient ability, is responsible for the support of such person or child under age 21 years. Both state that stepparents shall in like manner be responsible for the support of children under the age of 21 years. The law imposes an obligation to support a stepchild on a husband. That obligation continues as long as the relationship exists between the stepfather and mother. It ceases when that relationship is terminated and the erstwhile spouse of the child's mother is no longer her husband. It continues only as long as he is the stepfather (Matter of Marie Ewell v Sisson, 81 Misc2d 1070, 367 NYS2d 711 [Fam Ct, Yates County 1975]). Thus, a relationship between a stepfather and stepchild ends when the parties' divorce becomes final (Peake v Peake, 205 Misc 393, 138 NYS2d 631 [Dom Rel Ct, Kings County 1954]; Kaiser v Kaiser, 93 Misc2d 36, 402 NYS2d [1978]).

In the absence of a clear statutory provision continuing the obligation of a stepparent after the death of either party to the marriage, the relationship and obligation on the part of the survivor terminates (Erie County Board of Social Welfare v Schneider, 6 Misc2d 374, 163 NYS2d 184 [Children's Ct, Erie County 1957]). In Slockhowsky v Lavine, 73 Misc2d 563, 342 NYS2d 525 [Sup Ct, Nassau County 1973], the court stated that the "general obligation of support imposed upon a natural or adoptive father does not turn on a child's dependence upon public assistance, and, indeed, exists regardless of the child's own resources and those of his mother. Moreover, unlike the stepparent liability, a natural father must support his child even after the death or divorce of the natural mother (citation omitted). The provision for the support of a child is certainly on a broader basis and has deeper roots than the provision for support of stepchildren." Once a marriage dissolves, be it by divorce, death, or for any other reason whatsoever, a stepparent relationship ceases (Decker v Grant Seamon, 18 Misc3d 1101A, 856 NYS2d 23 [Fam Ct, Otsego County 2007, citing Rita F. v Neil F., 12 Misc3d 894, 819 NYS2d 439 [Fam Ct, New York County 2006])."

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