Know Your Rights: Paternity and Unmarried Fathers

Posted on May 13th, 2020

An overwhelming amount of children in the United States are born to unmarried parents — approximately 40%. While in some cases, the parents may be in committed relationships but unmarried, the reality is that many of these children will grow up in a fatherless home. Unfortunately, the problem is that many fathers do not know their rights for establishing paternity in Pennsylvania.

Paternity in the United States

While it was long believed that mothers should have custody of their children in the event of a divorce or breakup, the reality isn’t always so. It is estimated that 25% of households are led by a single father. But what happens in cases where the couple isn’t married?

In the United States, when the couple is married, it is presumed that a child consummated during the marriage is the child of each parent. However, when the parents are unmarried, there is no legal presumption of paternity, unless the father is there at the time of the birth. 

However, without being there for the birth and his name not being on the child’s birth certificate, the father has no claim to custody or visitation of the child.

So what’s a dad to do?

Establishing Paternity in Pennsylvania

It’s important for the father to establish paternity if he wishes to have legal custody or visitation rights to the child. Of course, in order to do so, the mother needs to agree and get court approval. If the mother does not agree to the DNA test and the court also does not approve it, the father must come up with the funds to get the test. This can cost anywhere from $300 to $500. But without the legal results, there is no case.

To view how the courts can help with DNA testing, click here.

Once It’s Established

Once the paternity test reveals that the child is the father’s, he needs to work to establish shared custody or visitation

It’s important to know that a variety of factors come into play when it comes to unmarried parents and custody. The court will look closely at:

  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Domestic violence history
  • The ability of each parent to meet the physical as well as emotional needs of the children.
  • The ability to meet the needs of a child for family life, community life, as well as a child’s education.

Regardless if custody or visitation is established, the father then also has a legal obligation to pay child support for the baby. The courts will use the same factors to determine the monthly support payments to ensure the child is being cared for.

Paternity Rights for Pennsylvania Dads: Attorney Craig Kalinoski Is Here For You

Establishing paternity and ensuring you are able to be an active participant in your child’s life is a huge undertaking, especially when the mother is not in agreement. But as the child’s father, you have just as many rights and responsibilities to that baby. Do not let the mother try to push you out of your child’s life. Contact the family law attorney Craig Kalinoski today for a free consultation. We want you to be a part of your child’s life. Let us help you.

Category: Family Law

Share this Post
Craig Kalinoski
Craig Kalinoski

Craig P. Kalinoski is a respected attorney serving clients in Scranton, Pennsylvania. With a focus on Family Law, Criminal Defense, and Civil Rights, he has established himself as a top-rated legal professional. Recognized as a Rising Star and admired by peers, Craig's commitment to excellence sets him apart in the legal field.


We fight for the rights of our clients in a wide spectrum of practice areas, ranging from criminal defense to family law and personal injury.

Back to Top