Per California Family Code section 3900, both parents of a minor child have a duty to support that child until the age of majority, or 18 years old, or if that child is 19 and still in high school. The duty extends to support their child “in the manner suitable to the child’s circumstances.” The duty to provide for your child is held equally by both the mother and father of the child and it is one of the highest duties of a parent, in that the statutory duty cannot be waived even if both parties agree. (Carr v. Marshmann (1983) 147 Cal.3d 1117.)
The duty of child support extends even to legally adopted children, given the creation of the child-parent relationship. With this responsibility, adoptive parents also are able to enjoy all other rights and responsibilities associated with the parent- child relationship.
Further, the marital status of the parents has no bearing on the child support duty; so whether the parents are married, separated, divorced, or the child was a result of a one-night-stand, the same legal obligation to support the child exists. However, before the child support obligation kicks in, determining the parentage may be necessary in your case. If there is any doubt that a child may not be yours, a legal determination of parentage is key to the obligation to pay child support.
If you want further information on child support or custody, including what is considered in the calculation of support, please contact our office.