Child Support

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds Step-Father Liable For Child Support

A step-father who sought legal and physical custody of his ex-wife’s children can be liable for child support, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A divided Supreme Court ruled on a 3-1 vote last week in A.S. vs. I.S. that when a step parent takes aggressive legal steps toward assuming the same parental rights as the child’s biological parent the stepparent assumes those parental obligations, which includes child support.

Justice Max Baer, who wrote the majority’s opinion, said parents in loco parentis status-meaning he or she assumed parental obligations without going through legal adoption- doesn’t create child support obligation. But the stepfather in the case had engaged in a “far greater assumption indeed as relentless pursuit of parental duties” said Baer.

“Here we have a stepfather who hated a fit parent in court, repeatedly litigating to achieve the same legal and physical custodial rights as would naturally accrue to biological parent.” Baer said adding “this is not the ‘typical case’ of a stepparent” who wants post-separation relationship with the children. “Stepfather in the instant case has litigated and obtained full legal custody and physical custody rights, and has also asserted those parental rights to prevent a competent biological mother from relocating with her children” he said.

The decision reserved both Trial Courts’ ruling that the stepfather should not owe child support and the Superior Court’s decision affirming the ruling

Reference: Max Mitchell, Legal Staff, The Legal Intelligencer, (January 5, 2016)

Filed Under: Stepfather/Child Support

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