Can the mother of my fiance's daughter come after my income once we're married?

Asked almost 7 years ago - Somerset, PA

My fiance has a daughter who he fathered at a young age in the state of PA. For the first several years of his daughter's life, the mother completely blocked him from any access to his daughter and did not ask for child support, and due to family bankruptcy he did not have the money for an attorney or child support. When his daughter was about 6, my fiance held a good job, and received an order to appear in court for child support.

We initially thought this was good news and that he would soon be able to be involved in his daughter's life. He was happy to pay support. Because we live in a large metropolitan area, my fiance made what seems like a high salary in comparison to his ex'es small town salary, so he ended up paying 60% of the child support costs, a huge strain on our finances. My fiance worked very hard over the next few years to advance his career, all the while we fought his ex in court to get regular visitation with his daughter.

As his salary has risen, his ex continually comes back asking for more money, and gets it. She now makes less than she did when this started, has an MBA yet works retail.

We have tried several times to reconcile with her and settle out of court. She always pretends like she's going to be agreeable (esp with attorneys around), but then randomly will decide she wants nothing to do with us, gets really nasty over the phone and email, won't show up for visitation (we drive 3 hours to be there on a monthly basis and half the time she doesn't show), and she actually withheld access to his daughter for a year just because we asked to be able to have her spend the night. We have never actually received a court order for visitation - only what interim plan she agrees to prior to going to court. Then she does whatever she can to delay going to court, and our attorneys were ineffective in getting us in front of a judge.

On the rare occasion we do get to see his daughter, we have a great time and she enjoys time with our family (fiance, me and his parents).

After getting nowhere over the past 5 years with the attorney we started with, we finally requested that our attorney cease work on the case, and they withdrew as counsel. We have had a really tough time finding a new attorney in this rural area, no one will go there. Needless to say, it's been a nightmare.

Now, in a few months, my fiance and I will be married after being together almost 8 years. Given her past history, if there's any possibility she can come after my income once we're married, she will. I'd like to know if there's any way she can do that, or if we can take measures be protected.

Also, I'd be interested to hear any thoughts on our attorney troubles - although we've basically chalked that up to lessons learned and are looking for an attorney more experienced in family law to help us get consistent visitation and eventually joint custody with my fiance's daughter.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Lauren Hope Kane

    Contributor Level 3

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . In short, you are not financially responsbile for a child who is not your biological child unless you have adopted this child. In that case, you would have full rights and obligations to that child.

  2. Stephen J. O'Brien

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Your are not financially responsible for your fiance's child. Your attempts to resolve the disputes with his child's mother has not worked. Get a order for visitation in place. Until such is in place the child's mother will continue to play games. But, remember that a custody dispute will likely become drawn out and that what you desire - adherence to a set schedule, will also be enforced against your fiance.

  3. Susan J. Sacchetta

    Contributor Level 8

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . The court will not utilize your income to determine your husband's child support obligation for a child that is not yours. Relative to a lawyer in the area I can provide you with a name of an attorney if you contact my office.

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