Are parents required to pay child support for children?

It is the State of Florida and court’s policy to require a parent to support his/her children. This obligation is not enforced on one parent by the other, but rather is a right possessed by the children. At any time during the proceeding for divorce, the court can order a parent who owes child support to pay the other parent. If the child is in the custody of someone besides the parents, both parents may be ordered to provide support. An adopted child possesses the same right for support as a natural child. A parent is not required to provide support for a child that is not his/hers by birth or adoption, unless that parent has a contract to support the child. Therefore, a party is not required to provide support for stepchildren of a marriage after the marriage has been terminated. However, a stepparent may be ordered to pay child support if the natural parent can provide evidence of “equitable estoppel.” This occurs when (1) a stepparent made agreement to support a child, (2) a parent depended on the agreement; and (3) some behavior of the stepparent led to the child being cut off from natural parent’s support.

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