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Establishing paternity in Pennsylvania

Allegheny, Pennsylvania, married couples establish paternity as long as they are married when the child is born. However, if they are not married and they both want to establish paternity, then an Acknowledgment of Paternity form will need to be completed and signed by both the mother and father. What happens, though, if a mother wants to establish the paternity of her child or if a father believes or does not believe that he is the father of the child?

If the child is born and the parents want to establish the child's paternity judicially, then the court becomes involved. A Complaint for Support is filed. During the hearing, the mother and the father may sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity or the father may ask the court for DNA testing. A request for genetic testing may be forwarded to the court if the possible father is incarcerated.

A father who believes he may be the child's father, may file a request for genetic testing. If the mother was married when the child was born, the state automatically recognizes the husband as the child's father. If a mother wants to file a Complaint for Support against someone other than her husband, it may be ordered by the court in limited situations.

Most children benefit from having both his or her mother and father in his or her life. However, there are responsibilities that come with establishing paternity, such as paying child support and providing health insurance. Men who establish paternity have a right to seek visitation and custody of a child.

If you wish to establish paternity -- whether you are the mother or possible father -- it is wise to have an experienced family law attorney by your side. He or she can explain the process in greater detail and act as your advocate during the paternity process.

Source: Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, "Paternity" Nov. 11, 2014

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