The question of child custody becomes more complicated when the parents never married. Unmarried parents have the same rights as married parents in Pennsylvania. However, there is no presumption of paternity in the case of unmarried couples.
If you want to establish paternity in a custody battle, you must meet specific requirements. Continue reading to learn more about paternity claims in Pennsylvania.
Acknowledging the father
Fathers have every right to pursue child custody, but you must establish paternity. There are two general ways to prove paternity. The simplest way is for both parties to acknowledge the father. According to Pennsylvania Legislature Chapter 51 Section 5101, paternity is legitimate if there is clear and convincing evidence that the father supports the child and claims the child as his own.
Court-ordered DNA tests
Sometimes one side will not acknowledge the father of the child. If either the mother or father does not want to recognize the father for custody or child support reasons, the court can order a DNA test. Neither the mother nor the father has the right to deny a court-ordered DNA test.
Once the DNA test confirms the father, the court issues an order of paternity. This means the father has his name added to the child’s birth certificate, and they have access to all the legal rights and responsibilities.
Custody disputes cannot happen in Pennsylvania without establishing the father. Whether you are the mother or father, creating the best environment for your child should be the primary concern. Do not let personal disputes between your ex-partner prevent you from taking care of your children.