A Noteworthy Case Study on Grandparents Paying Child Support
Child support obligations are decided by court order and are intended to be payments towards financially supporting a minor child after the parents have been divorced. If they are able, it is a responsibility of both parents to contribute to their child’s financial needs.
Courts in Minnesota allow for modifications in the initial child support order if the circumstances of the parents substantially change. Only rarely does the obligation of child support involve the grandparents.
The question of whether courts can pass on the child support obligation to the grandparents has become difficult to answer as the traditional “family” is evolving. When a child support obligation is extended beyond the biological or the adoptive parents, it can reach the grandparents. That is, in the absence of a biological or adoptive parent, if the role of a parent is assumed by grandparents, they may become obligated to pay child support.
There are numerous cases where grandparents start parenting their grandchildren without any knowledge of the implications of their decision.
A Recent Case Study
Two grandparents from North Bay, Ontario were summoned to court recently to fight a claim filed by their daughter-in-law who is seeking a monthly child support of $760 from the grandparents towards her 10-year-old daughter. The mother has vigorously demanded child support from the grandparents and asked the court to take away their access rights to the child if they fail to pay her the amount.
The mother’s lawyer argued that the grandparents had played an important role in the child’s life, one that was similar to a parent, thus they should be obliged to pay child support.
Grandparents, in rare cases, are required by the court to make payments toward child support when they are ready to take up the role of a parent, which happens when they have custody of the child.
The North Bay grandparents in the above case did have emergency custody of the child in 2010 for about eight months, which was ordered by the Children’s Aid Society. The grandparents were also the official parties in a custody dispute between their son and his wife.
Their involvement in the aforementioned matters has prompted the mother of their granddaughter to seek child support from them. Their son had passed away in 2013.
It is believed that this case could set a precedent considering the expanding rights of grandparents in custody matters. The case could clear out a lot of blurred areas when it comes to family law rights and obligations of grandparents. The question is, could a grandparent in Minnesota be
obligated to pay child support? The answer is that yes, in certain circumstances. For example, when a grandparent and a parent share joint custody of a child.
This is a case that needs to be followed and we will keep you posted about the latest advancements in it.
Meanwhile, if you have questions about child custody, divorce rights, and other family law issues in complex scenarios that may involve grandparents, contact Maxim Smith’s Allison Maxim, an experienced St. Paul family law attorney.