Written By: Brandy Miller | June 15, 2016 | No Comments
What role do stepfathers play in a child’s life after divorce? Are they required to pay child support? In cases where the stepfather has adopted the child, it’s clear that the stepfather must support adopted stepchildren. In cases where the stepfather chose not to adopt, though, the law has been murkier.
However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has passed a ruling in A.S. v. I.S., determining that a stepfather who has not adopted his stepchildren does still have a responsibility to support the children financially.
A.S. v. I.S. and Pennsylvania Child Support
The case began in 2005, when a mother of twins married Avraham Shiloh in Serbia. Avraham Shiloh became the stepfather to the twins but never adopted them. Before separating in 2009, the family moved to Pennsylvania. In 2012, the mother decided to move to California with her children, and the stepfather filed an emergency petition and filed for custody. He wanted to prevent his wife from moving away with the children and claimed in loco parentis status, alleging he stood in place of a parent to the children because of his involvement in the children’s lives.
The mother then filed for child support. However, a court ruled the stepfather did not have to pay child support since he had not adopted the children and was not the biological father of the children. A Superior Court affirmed this decision. However, the mother appealed, and the case found its way to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined Avraham Shiloh did have an obligation to pay child support. Explaining the A.S. v. I.S. decision, Justice Max Baer noted in loco parentis itself does not require a stepparent to pay child support if no adoption has taken place, but Avraham Shiloh repeatedly asked the courts for physical and legal custody rights of the twins. In doing so, he asked for rights to the children, which also created an obligation to support them financially.
What Does the Court Decision Mean for You?
The court case could have implications for your divorce. If you are in a relationship where there is a stepparent and biological parent, it is possible the new case will mean the stepparent may have obligations to pay child support — even if no adoption took place.
According to legal experts, A.S. v. I.S. has the potential to impact same-sex couples, divorcing couples and even unmarried couples seeking to make decisions about child support. If you are the biological parent of a child and believe the child’s stepparent should pay child support or if you are a stepparent concerned about whether you will need to pay support, you may need legal advice about your circumstances.
Are you going through divorce and are concerned about child support, alimony or other family law matters? Would you like support during your request for custody or divorce? Contact the family law attorneys at Miller Law Group. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience, and we are pleased to serve clients in Berks County, Reading, PA. If we can be of help, contact us for a consultation today.