Before the 1990s, when DNA testing became widely available, it was virtually impossible to validate or invalidate rumors that your biological father as someone other than who you thought he was. Revealing the results of DNA paternity tests became a popular theme for daytime TV shows. While seeing people find out that they have children they didn’t know about, or else find out that the children they have raised since birth are not related to them by blood, makes for compelling voyeuristic entertainment, but it can be devastating to the people involved. Today, DNA testing is so widely available that some people take DNA tests purely out of curiosity, to find out more about their family history. The way that DNA paternity testing affects, or does not affect, your legal relationship to your children might surprise you. It takes more than just a DNA paternity test to establish legal paternity, and Iwanyshyn & Associates in Pittsburgh can help you in family law cases related to paternity.
Establishing Legal Paternity, with or Without a DNA Test
If you are legally married to the child’s mother when the child is born, you are automatically the child’s legal father. If the mother is not married, you can establish legal paternity by filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (Form PA-CS 611); both you and the mother must sign the form in front of a witness, and then you file the form with the court. After 60 days, your status as the legal father becomes irrevocable; it lasts until the child reaches adulthood or your legally terminate parental rights.
Establishing legal paternity does not require a DNA test. When you are the legal father, whether through marriage to the mother or through voluntarily acknowledging paternity, a DNA test excluding you as the biological father does not change your status as the legal father. Likewise, if your child’s mother was still legally married to someone else when your child was born, her husband will become the legal father, even if they have been separated for years. In that case, you should consult a family law attorney as soon as possible, even before the child is born.
If You Suspect That Your Wife Has Been Unfaithful to You
If you are not sure whether you are a child’s biological father, the time to get a DNA test is now. Don’t wait until after you get divorced to bring up the issue of your wife’s alleged infidelity. With the availability of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), it is even possible to compare your DNA to the child’s before the child is born. If you ask for a DNA test after your divorce, and it turns out that you are not the biological father, you are still responsible for paying child support.
Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps Fathers and Children Stay Together
If your child’s mother was legally married to someone else at the time of the child’s birth, it is possible to establish legal paternity, but you will need the help of a lawyer. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Pittsburgh about paternity cases.