Adoption and Child Support

Adoption is a legal process that replaces a child’s parent/guardian with another person. It can happen for one or both parents. One of the most common types of adoptions in Montana is a step-parent adoption. When two parents separate, and one of the parents remarries – that new spouse often wants to adopt the children. In order for that to happen, the original parent has to either consent to the adoption, or the Court has to rule that the adoption should take place. But is the other parent still responsible for child support?

There are two answers to this question: yes and no. No, the other parent is not responsible for child support after the adoption. The adoption process legally severs the relationship between the parent and the child and replaces it with the adoptive parent. That person could be responsible for child support going forward, but the original parent will no longer be. For some people, this is a consideration when contemplating a step-parent adoption.

What the adoption doesn’t erase is past-due child support. The support that was owed on the date of the adoption does not disappear. The original parent continues to owe that because up until that time he or she was responsible for it. The child support won’t continue to accrue (although interest and other things could continue to make it larger) but it also won’t go away.

Adoption is a permanent legal process that replaces a child’s parent with another person. It should never be entered into lightly. Child support is one of the many moving pieces that need to be considered when adoption is on the table.

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