Rule 1910.3. Parties. Obligor. Obligee.
(a) An action may be brought
(1) by a person, including a minor parent or a minor spouse, to whom a duty of support is owing, or
(2) on behalf of a minor child by a person having custody of the child, without appointment as guardian ad litem, or
(3) on behalf of a minor child by a person caring for the child regardless of whether a court order has been issued granting that person custody of the child, or
(4) by a public body or private agency having an interest in the case, maintenance or assistance of a person to whom a duty of support is owing, or
(5) by a parent, guardian or public or private agency on behalf of an unemancipated child over eighteen years of age to whom a duty of support is owing, or.
(6) by any person who may owe a duty of support to a child or spouse. If the person to whom a duty of support may be owed does not appear, the action may be dismissed without prejudice for the petitioner to seek further relief from the court.
(b) The trier of fact shall enter an appropriate order based upon the evidence presented, without regard to which party initiated the support action, filed a modification petition or filed a petition for recovery of support overpayment. The determination of which party will be the obligee and which will be the obligor will be made by the trier of fact based upon the respective incomes of the parties, consistent with the support guidelines and existing law, and the custodial arrangements at the time of the initial or subsequent conference, hearing or trial. If supported by the evidence, the party named as the defendant in the initial pleading may be deemed to be the obligee, even if that party did not file a complaint for support. The provisions of this subdivision do not apply to parties seeking spousal support or alimony pendente lite. Parties seeking spousal support or alimony pendente lite must assert a claim in an appropriate pleading with proper notice served upon the other party.
(1) In general, the party who has primary custody of the children shall be the obligee of a child support order.
(2) When the parties share custody of the children equally, the party with the higher income shall be the obligor as provided in Rule 1910.16-4(c)(2).
New subdivision (c) incorporates 23 Pa.C.S. § 4341(b) to confer standing on any person who is caring for a child to seek support on behalf of that child even though there is no court order granting legal or physical custody to that person. The statutory provision effectively overrules Larson v. Diveglia, 549 Pa. 118, 700 A.2d 931 (1997), which held to the contrary.
Subdivision (e) is amended to eliminate the requirement of consent when the child is over 18 years of age. This requirement was originally intended only for applicable child support actions for higher educational support, which actions were abolished by Curtis v. Kline, 542 Pa. 249, 666 A.2d 265 (1995). This rule also is intended to apply to children who are unemancipated by reason of physical or mental disability, consistent with 23 Pa.C.S. § 4321(3) as interpreted by case law.
A new category has been added in subdivision (a) to allow a party who may not have primary custody of the parties child or who may owe a duty of support to a spouse to initiate a support action in which an appropriate order may be entered. In some cases, the obligor may want to start paying spousal support or alimony pendente lite to the obligee as soon as possible to avoid the accumulation of retroactive arrears, but § 71 of the Internal Revenue Code provides that payments to a spouse or ex-spouse must be pursuant to an order or a divorce or separation instrument to receive alimony tax treatment. Thus, any payments made prior to the entry of a support order will not be deductible by the obligor. This provision is intended to allow an obligor to commence the process by which he or she may pay support earlier.
A new subdivision (b) has been added to clarify that in all initial and subsequent child support actions, the trier of fact may enter a support order against either party, without regard to which party filed the complaint or petition for modification. This facilitates judicial economy, and relieves the parties from incurring additional filing fees, losing time from work or family, losing retroactivity and having to wait for a new proceeding to be scheduled. It enables the trier of fact to base the order on the facts and circumstances at the time of the proceeding, which may be different than at the time of filing.
The provisions of this Rule 1910.3 amended March 2, 2000, effective immediately, 30 Pa.B. 1646; amended October 30, 2001, effective immediately, 21 Pa.B. 6273; amended August 26, 2011, effective November 1, 2011, 41 Pa.B. 4847; amended November 5, 2012, effective December 5, 2012, 42 Pa.B. 7091. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (358492) to (358494).
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