Sunday, January 24, 2016
From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A stepfather who sought legal and physical custody of his ex-wife's children can be liable for child support, the state Supreme Court has ruled.
The Supreme Court ruled on a 3-1 vote last week in A.S. v. I.S. that when a stepparent takes aggressive legal steps toward assuming the same parental rights as the child's biological parent, the stepparent assumes parental obligations.
Justice Max Baer, who wrote the majority's opinion, said a parent's in loco parentis status — meaning he or she assumed parental obligations without going through legal adoption — doesn't create a child support obligation.
“Here, we have a stepfather who hauled a fit parent into court, repeatedly litigating to achieve the same legal and physical custodial rights as would naturally accrue to a biological parent,” Justice Baer said, adding “this is not the ‘typical case’ of a stepparent” who wants a post-separation relationship with the children.
The decision reversed both the trial court's ruling that the stepfather should not owe child support and the Superior Court's affirming decision.
Chief Justice Thomas G. Saylor issued a dissenting opinion arguing there was an insufficient record in the case because the trial court dismissed the mother's complaint for child support at the pleadings stage.
Read more here.