David and Jane were a young couple and they were very much in love with one another. At the time of their meeting, Jane was pregnant with a child from a previous relationship, and David was aware of this and accepted it. The two married and they helped raised Jane’s child, Sarah. However, after five years, they decided to part ways. Jane asked David to pay child support but David argued that he did not have to, since the child was not biologically his and he was therefore under no legal obligation to do so.
In this case, the legal doctrine of standing in loco parentis could be said to apply. This term, Latin for “in place of a parent”, is a legal term that is often used in such cases. The term is used if a person has acted towards a child as if that person, most often male, was actually the biological parent. Thus a person could be seen as the child’s parent while not actually being the biological parent, at least in the eyes of the law. This concept can accordingly be applied to both parental rights and child support obligations.
However, making a loco parentis claim is not a clear cut matter and is not always easy to establish. It must be shown that the person has indeed put the child’s interests ahead of their own in a similar manner to a biological parent. As well, there are factors such as: time the couple has been together, length of the time in the child’s life, any role the non-biological parent may have had in the child’s life, and how that child was held out to the community at large by the non-biological parent. To help determine if this complicated legal doctrine applies to you and your case, please contact one of our knowledgeable divorce or family lawyers for more information on this and any other family law matters.