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R.K.J. v. S.P.K.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

September 26, 2013

R.K.J.,
v.
S.P.K., Appellant

Appeal from the Order entered on January 17, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, Civil Division, No. 636 DR 2010

BEFORE: SHOGAN, LAZARUS and MUSMANNO, JJ.

OPINION

MUSMANNO, J.

S.P.K. appeals from the Order denying his Motion for paternity testing and joinder of parties, directing that the child support Order for the minor child, A.Q.K., "remain in full force and effect, " and releasing escrowed payments of child support for A.Q.K. to the minor child's mother, R.K.J. We affirm.

The pertinent facts of this case are as follows:

The child at issue in this case, A.Q.K., was born on July 26, 2004. At the time of the child's birth, R.K.J. was legally married to [R.J., Sr.]. R.K.J. and [R.J., Sr.] separated in October of 2003. A divorce complaint was filed on June 23, 2004 …. A marriage settlement agreement was signed on January 13, 2006[, ] and was filed with the [trial c]ourt on January 20, 2006. A divorce decree was entered on February 9, 2006.
R.K.J. and S.P.K. had an "on again off again" relationship for two (2) years prior to the child's birth. The parties resumed their relationship around Christmas of 2003. The parties became engaged and moved in together in February of 2004.
The parties lived together for approximately six (6) years after the child was born but never married.
S.P.K. was present at the child's birth and signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity. S.P.K. asserts that at the time of the child's birth, he believed that R.K.J. was divorced from her husband. S.P.K. admitted that he was aware that A.Q.K. was not his biological child. S.P.K. admitted that A.Q.K. and R.K.J. resided with him for the six (6) years they were together and that he claimed A.Q.K. on his federal taxes. A.Q.K. refers to S.P.K. as "dad" and [] S.P.K. held the child out to be his. S.P.K. financially supported A.Q.K. since his birth….
R.K.J. also admitted that she held the child out to be the biological child of [] S.P.K. …. The parties broke up and R.K.J. filed [a Complaint] for child support. After a child support order was entered [on April 29, 2010], S.P.K. filed a Motion requesting an evidentiary hearing and paternity testing.[1] In September of 2010, th[e trial c]ourt determined that S.P.K. was the father of A.Q.K. under the doctrine of paternity by estoppel.[2]

Trial Court Opinion, 1/17/13, at 2-3 (footnotes added, citations omitted).

Subsequently, S.P.K. requested a hearing de novo. Praecipe for Hearing De Novo, 10/1/10. The hearing officer took judicial notice of the September 2010 Order, denying S.P.K.'s request for paternity testing, and noted that the parties had agreed to stipulate to their net incomes and the amount of a support guidelines order. Findings of Fact, 11/16/10, at 3. Thus, by agreement of the parties, the hearing officer recommended that S.P.K. pay $697 per month for current child support and $25 per month toward arrears. Id.

On December 3, 2010, S.P.K. filed Exceptions to the hearing officer's report and "Continuing Objection to Paternity." After a hearing, the trial court denied S.P.K.'s Exceptions on January 27, 2011. S.P.K. then filed a timely appeal to this Court.

On August 23, 2011, this Court affirmed the trial court's decision. R.K.J. v. S.P.K., 32 A.3d 841 (Pa. Super. 2011) (unpublished memorandum). Subsequently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted S.P.K.'s Petition for allowance of appeal, vacated this Court's Order, and remanded this case to the trial court for further proceedings in accordance with the Supreme Court's decision in K.E.M. v. P.C.S., 38 A.3d 798 (Pa. 2012). In re R.K.J., 40 A.3d 1184 (Pa. 2012).

On remand, S.P.K. filed a Motion to Renew Request for DNA Testing, requesting that he, R.J., Sr., and "the individual named by [R.K.J.] as [the] biological father, [T.C., ] be tested." Motion to Renew Request for DNA Testing, 4/6/12. S.P.K. also filed a Motion for Joinder, requesting that R.J., Sr., Crum, "and/or the individual determined to be the biological father of the minor child be joined to this action." Motion for Joinder, 9/26/12.

The trial court on remand appointed a guardian ad litem, and ordered that evaluation of A.Q.K. be conducted by Carol Hughes ("Hughes"), a licensed psychologist. After a hearing on December 13, 2012, the trial court entered an Order denying S.P.K.'s Motions for paternity testing and joinder of parties, and further ordered that "the child support [O]rder entered on April 29, 2010, is to remain in full force and effect and the payments that had been escrowed" be released to R.K.J. Order, 1/17/13. S.P.K. filed the instant timely appeal from ...


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