Essay: Basis for Child Support Obligations

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¶ … Child Support Obligations

Generally speaking, child support law argues that the behavior of the parent or guardian makes them have child support obligations. Traditionally, child support obligations were only granted on the basis of the biological relationship between the parent and the child. However, currently it is not a must that the person should be the biological parent of the child. Neither is it a must for the parent to have a legal obligation to the child by virtue of being a relative or the father/mother Pirog-Good, 1993.

This is founded on the equitable doctrine of estoppel. Under the equitable doctrine of estoppel, the court may hold that since the person acted as a parent to the child and the child ended up relying on the parent, then even though the person may be a stranger to the child, they assumed parental duty and thus must pay for child support. Once a court makes a ruling under this doctrine, the person cannot be able to deny any payment for child support since they have under their own will (voluntarily) given such support in the past Stirling & Aldrich, 2008()

Public policies which exist and are enacted on the topic of child support have been used as excuses for making it compulsory for the non-biological parent to the child to pay child support or continue to pay if they had already started when their relationship with the biological mother ends Pirog-Good & Brown, 1996()

The Estoppel Theory

The Estoppel theory that was put forth is a legal principle which asserts that as a result of a person previously acting in a certain way or omission, this does not allow that particular person to assert any legal right. The Estoppel doctrine applies when three unique elements of the doctrine exist. The first element is the representation, either actual or implied, which induces conduct or forbearance of another. The second element is the act or omission of the act by another person who is relying on that representation. The last element is the resulting detriment to the party that is reliant Harknett & Knab, 2007()

When a court makes a child support ruling based on the equitable doctrine of estoppel, the judgment is that the court concludes that the person has no legal right to equitably deny any obligations in the future to provide support to the child and therefore this leads to the creation of a duty that is formal and enforceable whereas this did not previously exist for this particular person Huang, Mincy, & Garfinkel, 2005()

The real irony of the Estoppel theory is that because a person may have provided for the child as a Good Samaritan, they may end up being forced to continue doing so. Sometimes, the triggering representation which is an important element for the application of the estoppel theory is that a stepparent, stranger or grandparent may voluntarily provide economically for the child once in a while. The person has no legal duty towards this child Garfinkel & Lanahan, 1990.

The conduct of the relying party (the child) or the failure of the part to act consists of either the release of the other legal parent from his obligation to child support or their failing to pursue a non-paying obligor. This is either at the request of the volunteer payer or as a result of the need to do so being eliminated by the voluntary support being provided. The detriment in this case happens when the voluntary payer stops giving support which not turns up to be too late for the relying party to seek support from their legal support obligor Jason, 2002()

This is somewhat akin to law that is result-oriented and not justice-oriented. The court ends up looking at… [END OF PREVIEW]

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