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ANNETTE SCOTT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (10/11/79)

decided: October 11, 1979.

ANNETTE SCOTT, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Department of Public Welfare in case of Appeal of Annette Scott, dated October 5, 1977.

COUNSEL

Suzanne Reilly, for appellant.

Edward P. Carey, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer and Craig, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Craig

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 404]

Petitioner Annette Scott is the mother of three minor children born out of wedlock; one of the children, Nicole, is the daughter of Lawrence Christopher who, undisputedly not the father of either of the other children, made voluntary support payments for Nicole, ranging from $20 a week to $35 a week.

Petitioner and her family have been receiving public assistance under the Pennsylvania version of the Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) program, governed by 42 U.S.C. § 606(a).

Of course, under 18 Pa. C.S. § 4323, it is clear as a matter of law that the acknowledged father has a legal duty to support his child and only his child, and a reasonable view would consider it well that he was doing so without having to be compelled by court order.

It is equally clear, under the statute cited, that such support payments legally belong to the child Nicole, not to the other children or to the mother.

However, when Petitioner informed the Philadelphia County Board of Assistance (CBA) that such legally required payments were being made, the CBA informed Ms. Scott that such income of Nicole would be treated as available income to the entire family unit and that the unit's grant would be reduced by the amount of Nicole's support; if the CBA had recognized Nicole's income as "legally restricted income," the overall grant reduction would have been less.

At the appeal hearing, the hearing officer determined that "court-ordered support payments are the only support payments which are considered to be legally restricted income, . . ." citing Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Public Welfare (DPW) Public Assistance Manual § 183.24(e).*fn1

[ 46 Pa. Commw. Page 405]

Thus the question here turns on DPW's view that the assistance to an entire family is less impaired by court-compelled payments for one of the children, than when there is voluntary compliance with the ...


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