As stated above, the Department Human Services cannot order a stepparent to pay child support. When determining appropriate child support payments, the child support formula considers the combined income of the biological parents and the care arrangements of the child. Stepparents’ incomes are not taken into account.
If a parent has a child from a subsequent relationship, an amount for that child’s support will be deducted from the parent’s income. This deduction may be made for both the paying and/or receiving parent’s income where they have a child from a new relationship.
Although a stepparent may have a moral duty to maintain a step child, no legal duty applies and generally stepchildren are not included in the child support formula. However, in special circumstances where a parent has a reduced capacity to pay child support as a result of a legal duty to maintain another person, such as a stepchild, they may apply for a change of assessment. Special circumstances may include where neither of the child’s biological parents can support the child for reasons such as illness or death and therefore the stepparent is required to support the child.
For more information, see drummond street’s research paper ‘How the Child Support System works for Stepfamilies’ which is available to download here.