Family law advice – are your partner’s children your responsibility?

In these days where divorce is common, single parents have the tricky task of integrating their children into a new family life if they begin again with someone new. You might go on to have children with your new partner; you might not. You might be better getting some family law advice.

If your relationship then fails, clearly the children that you have had together are your joint responsibility, you each have a duty towards making the practical and financial arrangements for their care. But what if you have children from a previous relationship, does your partner have any responsibility towards them too?

When Timbaland, the American rapper and record producer,  split from his wife of five years, Monique Mosley last autumn, it was this question that made the headlines. The couple (who were subsequently reconciled) have a daughter, Reign, who was born shortly before their marriage. Monique wanted child support payments from Timbaland – whose real name is Thomas Mosley – for her. But that’s not all. Reports suggested that she was also applying for further payments from him for her son from a previous relationship. Monique claimed that because Timbaland had publicly and privately treated him as his own son, he should pay for both children.

Is this possible? Would she have been able to do this?

A judge considers how long a couple have been married, and whether the child has lived with them as a family unit, alongside all of the other factors in the break-up. But yes, Monique would have been entitled to make a claim for financial support for her son, as well as for the daughter they have had together.

If you are in a similar situation the you should get some family law advice, you may need to take this into account in any negotiations and arrangements that are made in terms of the financial settlement of your divorce. You need to tell your solicitor about all the children in the marital relationship, not just those that are yours, so that you get the correct legal advice about whether any settlement should include maintenance payments for your partner’s children as well as your own.