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Both Parents Duty to Support Their Children

Guiding You Through Difficult Times

When it comes to child support in California, there’s still a lot of confusion as to which parent is legally responsible for providing support to their minor children.  The answer is:  you both are.

California Family Code § 3900 covers the duty of parents to support their minor children.  It reads in pertinent part:  “…the father and mother of a minor child have an equal responsibility to support their child in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.”

That means both parents bear the responsibility to take care of their kids.  Case law has gone so far as to rule that even though the child’s minor father was the victim of statutory rape, the father is still legally responsible for the child’s support.  County of San Luis Obispo v. Nathaniel J., 50 Cal.App.4th 842, 57 Cal.Rptr.2d 843 (1996.

And even though a man is not a child’s biological parent, he may be required to support the child under the doctrine of parentage by estoppel, which requires:  (1) that the child have accepted a putative father’s express or implied representation that he is the child’s father and (2) that the representation continue for a sufficient time to establish a parent-child relationship and frustrate the opportunity of discovering the child’s biological father.  Clevenger v. Clevenger, 189 Cal.App.2d 658, 11 Cal.Rptr.2d 861 (2003). Although all the parentage-by-estoppel cases have involved men, the doctrine would seem equally applicable to women.

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