Paternity Laws in PA
By: Melissa D. Towsey, Esquire
“Paternity” is how fatherhood is legally defined under the laws of Pennsylvania. When a child is born to an unmarried woman in Pennsylvania, there is no legal relationship between the child and the father. Paternity can be established two ways: (1) by agreement of the parents; or (2) by court ordered paternity testing. Paternity can be established if mother and father agree and an Acknowledgment of Paternity form has been signed by both parents and witnessed by a third party. 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 5103
The paternity of a child can also be established by a court. 23 Pa. C.S.A. § 4343. When paternity is disputed by mother or father, a petition to determine paternity can be filed with the court. A judge may then enter an order for genetic testing to scientifically determine the child’s paternity. The test is a buccal swab, which is a swab of the inner cheek. “Genetic test results indicating a 99% or greater probability that the alleged father is the father of the child shall create a presumption of paternity which may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence that the results of the genetic tests are not reliable in that particular case.” § 4343(c)(2).
An action to determine paternity may also result when the mother files a Complaint about Child Support or either party files a Complaint about Child Custody.
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