Residents of Pennsylvania have many reasons for wanting to establish the paternity of a minor child. Perhaps the most common reason is to establish a legal basis for child support for the child. In all cases, however, the procedure is essentially the same.
Legal reasons for adjudicating paternity
Pennsylvania courts recognize several reasons for recognizing paternity, including:
- The child was born out of wedlock, and the parents subsequently married each other.
- If during the lifetime of the child the father makes clear and unmistakable gestures indicating that he is the father of the child.
- The presentation of evidence, including a prior adjudication of paternity, that the man was the father of the child.
- Proving paternity by way of genetic testing
Occasionally one parent or the other may decide to dispute an allegation of paternity. In such cases, the matter becomes a civil court case and is presented to a judge for resolution. The party asserting (or denying) paternity must prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence. If any party to the dispute requests genetic testing, the court is required to order such tests.
The outcome of such tests is generally determinative of the dispute, especially if the results support the allegation that the man is the child’s biological father.
Genetic testing is not the only form of evidence admitted in a paternity case.
Anyone with questions about the paternity of a minor child may wish to consult an experienced family attorney for assistance. A knowledgeable lawyer can offer useful advice, assist in gathering relevant evidence, and in presenting the evidence to the court.