Determining paternity is important in child custody cases, but establishing it can be challenging in Pittsburgh. Whether determining fraternity is done through a DNA test, identifying a child’s parents is essential for showing who is financially responsible for the child’s welfare and parenting. Pennsylvania courts prefer to identify a mother and a father so that both parents can play an essential role in their child’s upbringing.
You may have realized that you are your child’s father only to realize that someone else has claimed they are your child’s father. Perhaps a court is questioning the legitimacy of your claim or you may need to prove paternity to obtain child support from your child’s father. Whatever your situation, the family law attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.
What Rights Does a Father Have in Pittsburgh?
There is a common misconception that when a child’s parents aren’t in a relationship or married, the child’s mother will always win full custody when the custody case is brought to court. On the contrary, Pennsylvania courts do not assume one parent will be better suited to have custody than the other. Instead, they focus on the best interests of the child. Courts presume that children will benefit from spending quality time with their parents through a joint custody plan. When fathers can establish paternity, courts will generally grant them custody unless doing so is not in the children’s best interest.
As a father, you have just as much of a right to parent your child as your child’s mother, and the Pennsylvania court system will encourage you to take an active role in raising a child. In some cases, it may be appropriate for the father to maintain primary or sole custody of the children when the mother cannot suitably care for the children. Whatever your reasons for seeking custody as a father, you have the responsibility and right to care for your child financially and maintain a close relationship with them if you are mentally and physically capable of doing so. The attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace can help you understand your rights as a father and establish paternity.
How to Obtain a Test in Pittsburgh
There are several ways you can establish your child’s paternity in Pittsburgh. Once you establish paternity, you will be able to exercise your rights as a father. A mother may also need to establish paternity to obtain child support payments from the child’s father. Tests involve a mouth swab or blood draw from the child that will be compared to the father’s DNA. You can choose to have the DNA test done through a private facility or through the court system. Sometimes, a parent will choose to take a test. If the child’s parent refuses to comply with a test request, you and your attorney can seek a court order for the paternity test.
There are several ways to establish paternity under Pennsylvania law legally. Establishing paternity depends on the nature of the parental relationship and the consent of the involved parties. When a woman gives birth while married, her spouse will automatically be perceived as the child’s other parent.
Paternity by Estoppel
When a child is born outside of a marriage relationship, and a person acts as if he is the child’s father and holds the child out as his biological child, the father may be stopped from denying that the child is his at a later date. This is the doctrine of paternity by estoppel. The father’s actions relating to the child after his or her birth are significant and can be part of determining legal paternity.
Legally Establishing Paternity
When a child’s paternity is being contested, a party with standing can seek a determination through the courts. The interested party who seeks to establish paternity needs to be one of the following:
- The child’s mother
- The man who seeks to be legally declared the child’s father
- A presumed father who wants to confirm he is the father or definitively prove that a child is not his own to avoid the subsequent legal obligations
The court will likely enter an order for testing when paternity is at issue. The testing will involve DNA testing because it usually has a high probability of accuracy and conclusiveness. If there is still a partner dispute after the DNA test, the court will hold a trial to resolve the issue.
Paternity in Child Custody Cases
Generally, a child’s paternity isn’t interesting when the child’s parents are married. However, when a child is born outside of marriage, the father must establish his parental status to have access to all of his rights as a parent. Most of the time, establishing paternity involves a father signing a declaration that he is the child’s parent. In child custody cases, paternity can become an issue.
For example, a mother may want sole physical and legal custody of a child and claim that the father is not the child’s biological father. In this case, the father will need to establish paternity to pursue child custody and/or visitation rights. When parents cannot agree regarding the child’s custody, a judge will need to issue an order based on the child’s best interests.
Discuss Your Case with a Family Law Attorney in Pennsylvania
If you have questions or concerns about your child’s paternity, it’s important that you reach out to an experienced attorney. The dedicated and professional attorneys at Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace are here to help you. Whether you are a mother who needs to establish paternity to request child support or a father pursuing a legal relationship with your child, our law firm can represent your best interest. We have extensive experience establishing paternity or confirming a child’s lack of parentage so parents can pursue proceedings for child custody or child support. Contact Jones Gregg Creehan & Gerace today to schedule an initial case evaluation.