Can Grandparents be Ordered to Pay Child Support?

Grandparents have the right to request visitation rights, which cause them to also be obligated to pay child support. How is this possible?

Generally, when discussing child support payments you will typically think this is the responsibility of the parents of the child, not the grandparents. Ultimately, it was not the decision made by the grandparents for them to have a grandchild, so why would they be obliged to make them?

There are some cases in which grandparents have the possibility of being obliged to pick up the slack and make grandchild support.

In Loco Parentis

There are cases in which the grandparents of a child obtain the custody of the grandchild and stand in loco parentis, which make them required to make child support payments. What does loco parentis mean? Loco parentis translates into in the place of a parent.

For instance, if the grandparents of the child are given temporary custody of the child they are not in place of the parents. If the grandparents decide that they want a divorce, there is a possibility that the grandfather will be ordered to pay child support payments to the grandmother for their grandchild. In cases like this, the grandparents took on the duty of the parents to their grandchild which causes them to be arranged to make the payments.

Minor Children of Minor Parents

Under the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, grandparents may also be held accountable to pay child support for a grandchild. This law grants the permission for states to make it obligatory for the grandparents to be held responsible for child support if the custodial parent is a minor and collects government support payments. In laymen terms, if both parents of the child are minors, and mom receives custody of the child and collects government assistance, the dad is obligated to pay child support. However, if the father of the child does not have the funds to make the payments, the parents of the father will then be held collectively and sternly responsible for the child support payments.

The states that have these laws that require the grandparents to make the payments are:

  • Arizona
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

In some of the states such as Maryland and North Carolina, not only is it required for the parents of the custodial parent to make child support payments, but the non-custodial parents will also be held liable for the payments.