Most people have watched the show and heard the now catch phrase “you are not the Father”. It normally leads to one person running off the stage and the other person dancing in joy. But what does this really mean to the child. Establishing paternity is vital to healthy co-parenting.
So you ask yourself? Do I have to go on Maury to prove paternity? What are the benefits of proving paternity? How do I go about proving paternity in Pennsylvania? Let’s explore what is paternity, how to establish paternity and why it is a good idea to do so.
Establishing paternity is determining who legally has the related rights and obligations as father of the child. Every child has a biological father, but not every child has a “legal” father. When “paternity has been established” it means that someone has been named the legal father of a child.
There are a few ways paternity can be established.
- Paternity is automatically established if the parents are married to each other when the child is born. The husband is the legal father and his name will be on the child’s birth certificate.
- When an unmarried couple agree on paternity, paternity can be established voluntarily. To voluntarily establish paternity, both the father and mother must sign what’s called a “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” form (Form PA-CS 611) (“VAP”) in front of a witness, which can be any person over age 18 other than the mother or the father.
- If the parties do not agree to paternity then they can go through a court proceeding to establish paternity. Either party can file a “Petition to Determine Paternity” at the Family Court in order to begin the court process.
- A mother can also begin the process by filing a “Complaint for Child Support” at the Family Court. During the process the Father will get a chance to challenge paternity and at that point a DNA test will be ordered.
What are the rights, obligations and benefits that go along with Paternity? The first and most important is the Father is entitled to some form of custody/visitation!!! If custody is being withheld he can petition the court to demand his custodial rights. He will also be required to support the child financially. If he fails to do so the mother can petition the court for child support. The child can also now be placed on either parents’ health insurance. The child will also benefit from any inheritance they are entitled to from his Father’s side of the family.
Before you accept an invitation to the Maury show call us here at LaMonaca Law 610-892-3877 and we will help you establish paternity. No one will get to dance in joy or run off the stage crying but you will get what is needed to begin a healthy co-parent relationship.