West Chester, PA 19380
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Lee Ciccarelli is the founder and managing partner of Ciccarelli Law Offices with over two decades experience as a practicing attorney.
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Biologically, every child has a mother and father. However, when the parents are not legally married they generally must establish paternity for the child to have a legally recognized father. Establishing paternity is incredibly important, because only through legal recognition can certain rights and benefits be enforced, including child custody and visitation, inheritance, and other federal benefits.
Depending on the circumstances, including the disputes regarding the father’s biological connection to the child or one parent’s refusal acknowledge a father’s paternity, establishing paternity can be difficult and require the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Legal recognition of the father has many benefits for the child and father. However, depending on the circumstances this process may be complex and challenging. The experienced attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices will work diligently in your establishment of paternity case. With their combined experience they can ensure paternity is established and also assist with any auxiliary matters, including child support, child custody, and visitation.
Contact the attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (877) 529-2422 for a confidential consultation. You can meet on-one-one with a dedicated Pennsylvania child custody lawyer at one of our many convenient meeting sites in West Chester, Philadelphia, Radnor, Lancaster, Plymouth Meeting, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, or King of Prussia.
We represent clients in Chester County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Lancaster County and throughout the Philadelphia and Southeastern Pennsylvania area.
Ordinarily, paternity is automatically established when the parents of the child are married to one another. There is a presumption that the husband of the mother of the child is the biological father. As a result there is no need to establish paternity under normal circumstances.
However, if the parents are not married the parties can establish paternity in one of two ways, including:
Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or court-ordered recognition is necessary even if the parents are in a committed, monogamous relationship or engaged. Establishment of paternity is always necessary if the parents of the child are not married to each other. Paternity can be established voluntarily or by court order until the child is 18 years of age.
Voluntary acknowledgement of paternity is a viable option for parents who agree the father is the biological father of the child. To voluntarily acknowledge paternity, both the mother and father must sign a form called “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity” (Form PA-CS 611), commonly referred to as a “VAP”.
The VAP can be signed by both parties in the presence of a witness over the age of 18 at any time before the child turns 18. Generally, parents sign the VAP at the time the child is born in the hospital. After the VAP is properly signed and witnessed, the document must be filed with the Department of Public Welfare.
Once the Department of Public Welfare receives the VAP, the father is considered the legal father of the child and his name is added to the birth certificate.
For voluntary acknowledgement to be an option, it is important to note that the child cannot already have a legal father. For example, the mother of the child cannot be legally married to another man. Even if the mother is estranged from her husband at the time the child was conceived and born, the husband is still considered the legal father.
If the parties do not agree on matters involving paternity, either parent may petition the court to establish paternity. According to 231 Pa. Code Rule 1910.15, upon petition the court may order the parties to appear for genetic testing to establish paternity.
An order for genetic testing is mandatory. Should the alleged father not appear for genetic testing, as ordered by the court, the court will enter an order finding he is the legal father of the child. Should the mother of the child not appear for genetic testing, she will be subject to sanctions and dismissal of the paternity case.
Following the genetic testing, the results will be provided to the parties. If it is determined the alleged father is not the biological father of the child, the suit will be dismissed. Should the genetic test confirm the alleged father is, in fact, the biological father, the court will enter an order finding he is the legal father.
Following an order that a party is the legal father of the child, the court may then consider issues of child custody, visitation, and support.
Establishing paternity is recommended and beneficial to both the father and child. Establishment of paternity entitles the child to many rights and benefits, including:
The father of the child is also entitled to several rights, including:
The aforementioned lists are not exhaustive. It is highly recommended to consult an experienced family law attorney to explain all the rights and obligations that are conferred by establishment of paternity.
Establishment of Paternity can grant important benefits to you and your child. Allow the compassionate attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices handle your establishment of paternity case. The experienced attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices can thoroughly discuss your case and provide the best options based on your unique circumstances. Contact the attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices at (877) 529-2422 for a confidential consultation.
The attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices work to defend the rights of men throughout West Chester, Downingtown, Coatesville, Lancaster, Lititz, Ephrata, Norristown, Villanova, King of Prussia, Media, Philadelphia, and surrounding areas. Call us today at Ciccarelli Law Offices or send an online message for a free consultation.