Can I be Forced to Maintain a Child Even Though I am not the Parent?
I’m not a parent. Can the court still force me to pay for a child’s maintenance?
Yes. The court may make you liable for the maintenance of someone else’s child if the child has been accepted as a member of your family, and if the father or mother of the child fails to maintain him/her.
How do I know if I accepted a child as a member of my family?
The most obvious way that a non-parent accepts a child is through an express declaration. Besides this, s 70 of the Women’s Charter focuses on the quality of the relationship between the non-parent and the child to decide.
Strong indicators which previous cases have showed include changing the child’s surname to that of yours, encouraging the child to address you as “dad” or “mom”, including the child in family outings.
What if I thought the child was mine, but later found out he/she wasn’t?
The court may still find that you have accepted the child, as a member of your family, even if you assumed parental responsibility on the basis of facts that later turned out to be false.
However, it is possible that the court will not find acceptance in exceptional situations involving fraudulent conduct.
The biological father and mother of the child are still paying a bit of money to the child. Do I still need to pay?
The requirement of the biological parents failing to maintain their child before a non-parent steps in, simply means that the parents did not adequately maintain the children. It does not have to be a total failure. Thus, whether you have to pay depends on whether the amount of money the parents is giving to the child, is adequate.
I have already paid for maintenance. Can I get my money back?
A non-parent may recover the sums expanded on the child from the father or mother of the child, as per s 70(3) of the Women’s Charter.
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