Both parties have the right to an attorney to represent them in a paternity action. The DRS Staff Attorney will represent the plaintiff in the event of a paternity establishment court hearing.
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Paternity for a child born outside of a marriage can be established by the following people:
Note: Paternity must be established before a child's 18th birthday. It is not uncommon for an action to be filed to establish paternity years after a child's birth.
A legal document called an "Acknowledgment of Paternity". By signing this document a Defendant acknowledges that he fully believes he is the natural father of a particular child. He is advised of his rights to legal counsel, genetic tests, and a Court hearing. These rights are waived if an Acknowledgment is signed.
If someone is not sure that he is the biological father of a child, the Court will order genetic testing. The Domestic Relations staff member will arrange the testing for you in a DRS case, after a complaint for support has been filed and a paternity conference conducted.
Genetic testing, typically oral swabs, are taken from the mother, alleged father, and child(ren). All parties are photographed. The mother and alleged father sign the packaged genetic samples, which are then sent to a laboratory for genetic testing.
A trained technician will take the necessary genetic samples, for analysis by a qualified laboratory accredited in paternity testing.
The genetic tests are coordinated through the assistance of the DRS Genetic samples can be taken from one party in one locality and the other party in another locality. The samples are packaged and sent to the laboratory for testing. The Military fully cooperates with scheduling genetic testing.
He is sent a notice of the action filed against him and given an opportunity to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity. If he questions paternity or fails to respond within 90 days and is still incarcerated, the DRS will arrange genetic testing.
There is no minimum age to perform genetic testing on a child.
At the present time, it takes approximately three weeks after DNA samples of all parties are collected for the results of a paternity test to be returned. Please do not contact Domestic Relations to inquire about paternity test results.
You will receive the results of the paternity test in the mail along with further court instructions. Please do not contact Domestic Relations to inquire about paternity test results.
The present cost is twenty-four dollars ($24.00) per person or seventy-two dollars ($72.00) per family for genetic testing, in DRS local cases. On cases involving other jurisdictions, the amount may differ. A DRS staff member can advise of the cost in your case. The Defendant will pay for the test, provided he or she is not excluded by the test.
In paternity disestablishment cases, the moving party must pay the cost of testing.
If he is excluded, the case is dismissed and the mother may name another alleged father.
A child inherits 50% of his/her genes from the mother and 50% from the father. Therefore, both parties need to submit genetic samples for testing. However, if the mother is absent and/or unavailable for testing, a motherless test can be completed.
Paternity should be established through the Courts so that the parents can be held legally responsible for their own children. The child will also gain many benefits from this process:
In Pennsylvania and most states, the birth certificate does not legally establish paternity nor does it obligate one to pay child support.
If the alleged father refuses to submit to testing, or fails to appear at the scheduled test, he will be found to be the legal father without further notice. If the plaintiff is receiving public assistance and refuses to submit to testing, her assistance grant could be discontinued.