Are step-parents not liable for Child Support?
Time and again, when a client enters our office with their new spouse, the question of whether the Domestic Relations Office will consider the new spouse’s income in the Child Support calculation against a biological parent is asked. The short answer to that question is an emphatic, NO!
Fast forward that scenario a few years, step-father and biological parent are divorcing, step-father has grown increasingly close with the children, biological father has all but disappeared from the children’s lives (either by choice or not), and step-father files for custody of the children against biological parent he is divorcing. Is Step-parent liable for support? Most likely. Pennsylvania courts are still developing this area of law. The Pennsylvania Superior Court has held that a step-parent, who has signed an acknowledgment of paternity and held himself out as a biological father is liable for child support of that child. Hamilton v. Hamilton, 795 A.2d 403 (Pa. Super. 2002). In 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court took that idea even further and held that “when a stepparent takes affirmative legal steps to assume the same parental rights as a biological parent, the stepparent likewise assumes parental obligations, such as the payment of child support.” A.S. v. I.S., 130 A.3d 763 (PA 2015). So, depending upon the facts of your case, a step-parent very well may be liable for Child Support in Pennsylvania. Should you have any questions regarding Child Support or Custody, the attorneys at Sommer & O’Donnell are here to help. Give our office a call today to set up a consultation.
Credit: Brandon S. O’Donnell, Esquire