In New Jersey, someone other than a child’s biological parent can be responsible for making child support payments.
Specifically, under the doctrine of equitable estoppel, persons who are not the natural parents may have an obligation to support those children as to which they are in loco parentis. Ross v. Ross, 126 N.J.Super 394 (J. & D.R. Ct. 1972).
In Savoie, a grandparent was found responsible for the financial support of his grandchild. A Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court awarded grandparents custody of their grandchild. Upon separation of the grandparents, the grandfather consented to an order of support for the grandchild.
When the grandparents divorced, the grandmother was awarded custody and the grandfather was ordered to continue support. The Appellate Court affirmed on the basis of an in loco parentis relationship, and equitably estopped the grandfather from denying his obligations on the basis of the custody and support orders. Savoie v. Savoie, 245 N.J. Super. 1(App. Div. 1990).
The Court has held similarly in step-parent and guardian cases.