Paternity is probably the most important aspect of your divorce, more so than alimony. Paternity can impact many things, and will significantly affect your life once the divorce has been finalized. What do you need to know about paternity in Pennsylvania?
- Paternity Involves Legal Determination of The Father – It is possible for a child’s biological father to be different than his court-defined “legal” father. Paternity determines the child’s legal father. If parents are married to one another when the child is born, paternity is established automatically. If the parents are not married when the child is born, the father will not have any rights to the child until paternity is established. The father’s name will also not be on the child’s birth certificate until paternity is established.
- Voluntary and Involuntary Ways to Establish Paternity – If the mother and father agree about who the child’s biological father is, then paternity is voluntary established. Both parents sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form, and then submit that form to the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare. If the parents do not agree about who the father is, paternity will have to be established involuntarily. The court will issue an “order of paternity.” Typically, the mother will have to file a “Petition to Determine Paternity” or a “Complain for Child Support.”
- Paternity Can Impact Custody and Visitation – Being granted paternity can significantly improve your chances of being granted custody or visitation rights. It’s important to take the issue of paternity seriously. Your trusted legal team can help you navigate through the process.
- Paternity Can Impact Child Support Payments – The mother of the child may seek to determine paternity to receive child support payments to protect the financial interests of both her and her child. The courts may then require DNA testing to determine paternity.