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Paternity in Pennsylvania


What is Paternity?

Paternity essentially means determining who is the legal father of a child. Determinations of paternity may need to be made in support and custody matters.

Why is Establishing Paternity Important?

  • The child may be entitled to receive child support from the father.
  • The father may be able to get a court order regarding legal custody.
  • The father maybe able to get a court order regarding physical custody.
  • The child may be eligible to receive benefits through the father, such as medical coverage.
  • Inheritance rights may exist between father and child.
  • Knowing who the child’s biological father is makes the child aware of the medical history of the family.

How do you Establish Paternity in Pennsylvania?

If the parties are married, any children born during the marriage are presumed to be the children of the marriage.  Therefore, it is presumed the husband is the father of the children. If the parties are not married, then some work may have to be done to establish paternity. Two ways exist to establish paternity when the parents are unmarried: voluntary and involuntary.

  • Voluntary: If the unwed mother and father agree about paternity, then they sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity in front of a witness. This form is sent to the Department of Public Welfare. The father’s name is added to the birth certificate, and he has all the rights and duties as to the father which the child would have had if the father had been married to the mother at the time of birth.
  • Involuntary: If the mother and alleged father do not agree as to the paternity, then a determination of paternity may be needed. This most often arises if the mother sues the alleged father for child support or if the alleged father seeks custody of the child. If paternity becomes an issue that must be resolved, there is either an agreement between the parties or an order of court requiring genetic testing to determine paternity.  If the results of the genetic testing show a high probability that the alleged father is the biological father of the child, a determination of paternity will be made by the court or the parties will sign an acknowledgement of paternity. Once paternity is established the father and child have all the rights regarding the parent child relationship.
  • Paternity by estoppel: Paternity may be established by estoppel. This means that even if genetic testing reveals that the alleged father is not the biological father, that person may not be able to deny paternity.  These cases are very factually driven and an experienced family law attorney such as those at Bunde & Roberts, P.C. can advise you on whether you may or may not allege or deny paternity.  It is important to seek legal advice on this issue as your actions could preclude you from alleging you are the father or denying that you are the father.

Contact a Pittsburgh Paternity Attorney Today

If you have questions about a regarding paternity, now is the time to speak with  an experienced family law attorney. At Bunde & Roberts, P.C., our Pittsburgh paternity attorneys are ready to guide you through the paternity process.

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