A number of legal rights and obligations are at stake in determining the paternity of a child. Under Pennsylvania state law, fathers can be forced to pay child support for their non-custodial children, regardless of whether or not they were even aware they had a child. Alternatively, establishing paternity provides legal grounds for visitation and parenting time rights for fathers who want to establish a relationship with their son or daughter. In this way, mothers interested in receiving child support for their child and fathers who would like parenting time with their child can petition the court to determine paternity.
In order to establish the paternity of a child, the court will order that the putative father submit to a DNA test. Typically, this involves taking a cotton swab and swiping the inside cheek of the putative father to determine if there is a DNA match with the child.
Child Support and Paternity
While confirming the identity of your child’s father provides legal grounds for seeking a child support action against him, it’s important to remember that child support is intended for your son or daughter. Consequently, child support should not be considered a form of punishment nor should it be treated as exclusively your income; rather, it is for the maintenance and support of your child. In order to determine the amount of child support awarded, the court will use a formula determined by Pennsylvania state law that takes into consideration parental income, the number of children involved, health insurance costs, daycare costs, and other factors.
Other Legal Considerations Involving Paternity
While child support is an important factor in determining paternity, other legal issues come into play as well. For example, once paternity is established your son or daughter may have certain rights as an heir regarding their father’s estate. Additionally, depending on the age of the child involved, their father may be required to include them in their health insurance plan or list them as a beneficiary for certain kinds of death and Social Security benefits.
Fathers, Paternity, and Parenting Time Rights
Determining paternity can leverage a father’s rights regarding parenting time with his children. Regardless of whether or not you are listed on a child’s birth certificate as the father, if a court-ordered DNA indicates you are the father, you can petition the court for parenting time with your child. Here, however, it’s important to remember that the court will act in what it believes to be the best interest of a child. As such, the court may undertake measures to ensure you don’t pose a threat to your son or daughter. Once it’s determined that parenting time with you is in the best interest of your child, there is nothing their mother can do to deny you your parental rights.
Contact Paternity Family Law Attorneys at Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates
Regardless of whether you’re interested in obtaining a child support judgment against your child’s father or you’re a father interested in establishing your parental rights, we can help. To discuss your case and the legal options available to you, contact paternity family law attorneys at Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates today.