Wolf, Baldwin & Associates, P.C.

Stepparent forced to pay child support in unusual case

Is it only the biological parents of children who can be held accountable for child support? In most cases, the answer is yes, and you'd need to make sure your attorney was looking to seek that compensation from the right person. In this unusual case out of Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court has ruled that a stepfather can actually be held liable for child support.

How can someone unrelated to a child be held accountable for the child's needs? The Supreme Court stated that when a stepparent takes aggressive actions toward getting the same rights as a biological parent, the stepparent takes on all parental obligations including child support.

That doesn't mean all stepparents will be held liable for child support. If a stepparent never tried to adopt the child, for instance, there would be no real parental obligation in the way of child support. However, in the case, the stepfather in question had fought for full parental rights to prevent the children's mother from relocating with her kids. Because of that, the court agrees that he must pay child support, because he has taken on full responsibility for the children.

Previously, the mother's claim that the man should pay child support had been dismissed due to the fact that he wasn't a biological parent, even though the court had ruled in his favor and granted him partial custody and prohibited the woman from leaving the jurisdiction. Because of this case, it could be that any person who owes a duty of support to a child because of litigating for parental rights could be held liable for support.

Source: The Legal Intelligencer, "Pa. Justices Hold Stepfather Liable For Child Support," Max Mitchell, Jan. 05, 2016

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