Why Paternity is Important
Establishing paternity can be described as the legal process of determining fatherhood (a child's biological father), the father's rights, and his obligations to the child. Paternity is more than having the father's name on the birth certificate. Here are some reasons why it is important to establish paternity:
To the Child
- Provide the child with an identity
- Establish a relationship with both mother and father
- Receive financial support from the father
- Receive shelter and aid from the father
- Gain access to personal information (medical history & healthy risks)
- Learn about family history
- Access medical insurance, life insurance, and other benefits
- Benefit from the father's Social Security and veteran's benefits
- Be able to inherit the father's estate and property
- Gain the right to sue for bodily harm or death of the father
To the Mother
- Share parental responsibilities with the father
- Share custody with the father
- Seek child support payments
- Allow for parenting time or visitation periods
- Share the costs of raising the child
To the Father
- Participate in the child's life
- Gain legal rights to the child
- Able to apply for custody or parenting time
- Establish a cordial relationship with the child
- Provide care for the child
Establishing Paternity in Pennsylvania
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, paternity may be established either "voluntarily" or "involuntarily."
In Pennsylvania, the law of presumptive paternity applies. A child born during a marriage is presumed to be the child of the marriage. Therefore, when both the mother and father agree that the father is the child's biological father, paternity can be established voluntarily. To establish paternity voluntarily, both parents must sign the "Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity" (VAP) form in the presence of a witness.
When someone disputes paternity, it may become a court issue. In such situations, a court proceeding may be required to establish paternity involuntarily. During the proceeding, a Pennsylvania family court will issue an "order of paternity." The party seeking to establish paternity (mother or father) must file a "Petition to Determine Paternity" at the Pennsylvania family court in order to initiate the court proceeding.
When Disputes Occur
As previously mentioned, when disputes occur, a Petition to Determine Paternity may be brought to the family court. In Pennsylvania, the following people may file a petition to establish parentage:
However, if either the mother or father denies or is unsure of paternity, a Pennsylvania family court may order DNA testing. The inside of the child, mother, and father's cheeks will be swabbed and taken to a laboratory for analysis. Pennsylvania has a threshold percentage of 99% for DNA testing. The family court will use the result of the test to determine the child's biological father or issue an order of paternity.
How Legal Counsel Can Help
Paternity dispute cases in Pennsylvania often involve a lot of complexities. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is important to receive the proper guidance and representation you need throughout the entire process.
At Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C., I have devoted my career to providing outstanding legal services and compassionate representation in family law matters, including divorce, paternity, and child custody. As your legal counsel, I can offer the experienced legal guidance and advocacy you need throughout the decision-making process of establishing parentage.
Also, I will work diligently with all parties involved to negotiate a fair parenting agreement (including child custody, support, and parenting time) peacefully and quickly. Using my extensive experience and resources at my disposal, I will help protect the rights of you and your family and help you successfully navigate the paternity process. If needed, I can help you file a paternity action with the Pennsylvania family court.
Paternity Attorney Serving Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
If you are trying to establish paternity, contact my firm – Marc V. Taiani, Esquire and Allegheny Attorneys at Law, P.C. – today to schedule a consultation. I can offer you the legal guidance and advocacy you need throughout every step of the process. My firm proudly serves clients across Pittsburgh, Shaler Township, Ross Township, and Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania.