An Uncle's Petition for Support of a Child from His Biological Father

In Larson v. Diveglia, 549 Pa. 118, 700 A.2d 931 (1997), an uncle of a minor child, with whom the minor child was residing, petitioned the court for support of the child from the biological father. The trial court granted the biological father's preliminary objections on the basis that the uncle lacked legal standing to pursue an order for child support. This Court reversed the trial court finding that the uncle possessed de facto physical custody and, as such, possessed legal standing to bring a support action on the child's behalf. Upon appeal to our Supreme Court, the Court reversed our decision holding that "absent an order granting legal or physical custody a person does not have standing to bring an action for child support." Larson, at 120, 700 A.2d at 932. In reaching its decision, the Court reasoned: The right to child support belongs to the child and should only be asserted by a party who possesses a legal right to act on behalf of the child. . . . the creation of a doctrine of "de facto" standing to enable a person in possession of a minor child, in the absence of a formal custody order or agreement, to sue for support would only serve to further complicate this area of the law. Id. at 123, 700 A.2d at 933. However, subsequent to the decision in Larson, our legislature amended 23 Pa.C.S.A. section 4341, entitled "Commencement of support actions or proceedings", to read in pertinent part as follows: Procedure.-A support action or proceeding under this chapter shall be commenced in the manner prescribed by the Rules of Civil Procedure governing actions of support. Standing.-Any person caring for a child shall have standing to commence or continue an action for support of that child regardless of whether a court order has been issued granting that person custody of the child.