Should child support obligations be based on the biological, legal and/or social relationship between an adult and child?

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New relationships and technologies are challenging the way we have traditionally looked at child support obligations.  Historically, legal obligations to pay child support were based on either the legal status of marriage or the biological relationship established by paternity. Today, same sex relationships and non-traditional methods of reproduction have raised new issues about whether biological and legal relationships are enough or essential to establish support obligations.

Consider these situations:

  • Should a biological father who had sexual intercourse with the child’s mother once and never had any relationship with the mother or child have a legal obligation to support the child?
  • Should a same sex partner who has no biological relationship with the child or legal relationship with the child or its mother but had a long term emotional relationship with both have a legal obligation to support the child when the couple splits up?
  •  What about the obligations when conception is accomplished in vitro and the resulting embryo is implanted in the mother against the wishes of the father after the couple splits up? Support obligation to dad?

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