Think about these scenarios:


1.  Parties have an infant child and separate. Mom was not working at the time of separation, and does not want to go back to work. How is child support to be calculated?


2.  Mom has two children from a prior relationship, remarries and has a new baby. With respect to her older children, she pays child support. Can she stay home with her new infant and, if so, does she still have to pay child support?


Obviously, these two are not the only scenarios to which the issue might arise as to whether a parent can stay home to care for a young child. Under Pennsylvania Law, there is a “Nurturing Parent Doctrine”, pursuant to which the mother in these scenarios may not have to continue to pay child support. The issues are very fact specific, but focus on several factors, including, but not limited to:

  • the age and maturity of the child;
  • the availability and adequacy of others who might assist the custodian-parent;
  • the adequacy of available financial resources if the custodian-parent does remain in the home. 
  • the mother’s perception that the welfare of the child is served by having a parent at home is to be accorded significant weight in the court’s calculation of its support order.
  • the prior practice of the mother, i.e. what did she do when her older children were born?

There are several appellate cases on this issue, including the following:

Commonwealth ex rel. Wasiolek v. Wasiolek, 380 A.2d 400, 403 (Pa. Super. 1977).

Bender v. Bender, 444 A.2d 124, 125-26 (Pa. Super. 1982).

Atkinson v. Atkinson, 616 A.2d 22 (Pa. Super. 1992).

Kelly v. Kelly, 633 A.2d 218 (Pa. Super. 1993).

Depp v. Holland, 636 A.2d 204 (Pa. Super. 1994).

Frankenfield v. Feeser, 672 A.2d 1347 (Pa. Super. 1996).

McClain v. McClain, 872 A.2d 856 (Pa. Super. 2005).


Obviously, a parent looking at this issue should seek the advice of competent counsel since the issue is so fact specific.