Recently the Pennsylvania Supreme Court passed a ruling on a child support case concerning complicated matters of paternity. The case in question involves an alleged biological father, the mother of the child and the mother's estranged husband. Ruling that the best interests of the child should be of the utmost concern and that biological fathers may be held more strictly to pay child support, the ruling could have important implications for many families in the state.
Several years ago, the mother and the purported biological father of the boy had an extramarital affair, and the boy was subsequently born in 2006. Although the man believed to be the biological father has not taken a genetic test, the mother's estranged husband had one taken that ruled him out as the father. Nonetheless, the husband raised the child as his own for at least the first four years of the boy's life.
That led to a lower court ruling that because the husband had treated the child as his own and that since the child was held out as the product of their marriage, the mother could not pursue child support against the biological father. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed that ruling. The court emphasized that a court should first take into account the best interests of the child before making any determinations.
In both child support and child custody cases, judges typically try to ascertain the best interests of the child by weighing and balancing a number of factors. These factors can include paternity and the child's relationship to the parent. Here, as the case now continues to move through the Pennsylvania court system, it will be certainly interesting to see how a judge ultimately decides the issue in question.
Source: York Daily Record, "Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling alters standards for deciding paternity," Feb. 22, 2012