There is more than one reason parents in Pennsylvania should official establish the paternity of their child. In addition to having the right to have a relationship with their father, children can also receive a number of benefits, such as being able to receive child support, Social Security, inheritances or veterans benefits. The children will also receive valuable information about their father's genetic history, which can make them aware about any medical issues they may have inherited.
Paternity can be established either voluntarily or involuntarily. Fathers who voluntarily acknowledge that they are the father of a child agree to assume responsibility for the child and provide support until the child becomes a legal adult.
In order to legally establish paternity, the father can complete a Declaration of Paternity at the birth of the child. He may also file an affidavit of paternity with the court at any time before the child reaches their 18th birthday if he is not present at the birth of the child. If the affidavit has not been completed before the issuance of the birth certificate and the father wishes to have his name on the birth certificate, the certificate can be modified at a later time with the addition of the father's name.
In cases in which the paternity of the child has to be formally established without the cooperation of the father, the nearby Office of Child Support enforcement should be contacted. After the mother completes an affidavit that identifies the father, the father will be located by the office and contacted regarding the child.
A family law attorney may assist parents with resolving disputes regarding a wide range of child custody issues. Litigation may be used to obtain favorable settlement terms regarding physical custody, visitation rights, legal custody, relocation and child custody modification.