Jana R. Barnett, Esq
(610) 478-1860


23 Pa.C.S. §4343 Paternity

  1. Determination.  Where the paternity of a child born out of wedlock is disputed, the determination of paternity shall be made by the court in a civil action without a jury.  A putative father may not e prohibited from initiating a civil action to establish paternity.  The burden of proof shall be by a preponderance of the evidence.  Bills for pregnancy, childbirth, postnatal care related to the pregnancy and genetic testing are admissible as evidence without requiring third-party foundation testimony and shall constitute prima facie evidence of amounts incurred for such services or for testing on behalf of the child.  If there is clear and convincing evidence of paternity on the basis of genetic tests or other evidence, the court shall, upon motion of a party, issue a temporary order of support pending the judicial resolution of a dispute regarding paternity.  The Supreme Court shall provide by general rule for entry of a default order establishing paternity upon a showing of service of process on the defendant and a subsequent failure to appear for scheduled genetic testing.
  2. Limitation of actions.
    • An action or proceeding under this chapter to establish the paternity of a child born out of wedlock must be commenced within 18 years of the date of birth of the child.
    • As of August 16, 1984, the requirement of paragraph (b)(1) shall alos apply to any child for whom a paternity has not yet been established and any child for whom a paternity action was brought but dismissed because of a prior statute of limitations of less than 18 years.
  3. Genetic tests.
    • Upon the request of any party to an action to establish paternity, supported by a sworn statement from the party, the court or domestic relations section shall require the child and the parties to submit to genetic tests.  The domestic relations section shall obtain an additional genetic test upon the request and advance payment by any party who contests the initial test.
    • Genetic test results indicating a 99% or greater probability that the alleged father is the father of the child shall create a presumption of paternity which may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence that the results of the genetic tests are not reliable in that particular case.
    • To ensure the integrity of the specimen and that the proper chain of custody has been maintained, the genetic tests of the biological mother, the child or children in qustion and the alleged father should be conducted by an established genetic-testing laboratory in the course of its regularly conducted business activity, and certified records should be issued.  The certified records shall be admissible into evidence without further foundation, authentication or proof of accuracy if no objection is made within ten days prior to trial.  The laboratory must be certified by either the American Association of Blood Banks or the American Association for Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics.
    • If the court or domestic relations section orders genetic testing, the domestic relations section shall pay the cost of the test, subject to recoupment from the alleged father if paternity is established.
    • A determination of paternity made by another state, whether through judicial proceedings, administrative proceedings or by acknowledgment of paternity, shal be given full faith and credit in the courts of this Commonwealth.
    • A determination of nonpaternity made by another state with respect to a public assistance recipient shall not be binding upon the Department of Public Welfare unless the defendant shows that the department had actual notice of the proceedings, including the date and time of any trial, and a fair opportunity to participate in all material proceedings through counsel of its own choice.

23 Pa.C.S. §5102 Children declared to be legitimate

  1. General rule.  All children shall be legitimate irrespective of the marital status of their parents, and, in every case where children are born out of wedlock, they shall enjoy all the rights and privileges as if they had been born during the wedlock of their parents except as otherwise provided in Title 20 (relating to decedents, estates and fiduciaries).
  2. Determination of paternity.  For purposes of prescribing benefits to children born out of wedlock by, from and through the father, paternity shall be determined by any one of the following ways:
    • If the parents of a child born out of wedlock have married each other.
    • If, during the lifetime of the child, it is determined by clear and convincing evidence that the father openly holds out the child to be his and either receives the child into his home or provides support for the child.
    • If there is clear and convincing evidence that the man was the father of the child, which ay include a prior court determination of paternity.

23 Pa.C.S. §5103 Acknowledgment and claims of paternity

  1. Acknowledgment of paternity.  The father of a child born to an unmarried woman may file with the Department of Public Welfare, on forms prescribed by the department, an acknowledgment of paternity of the child which shall include the consent of the mother of the child, supported by her witnessed statement subject to 18 Pa.C.S. §4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities).  In such case, the father shall have all the rights and duties as to the child which he would have had if he had been married to the mother at the time of the birth of the child, and the child shall have all the rights and duties as to the father which the chid would have had if the father had been married to the mother at the time of birth.  The hospital or other person accepting an acknowledgment of paternity shall provide written and oral notice, which may be through the use of video or audio equipment, to the birth mother and birth father of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of and the rights and responsibilities that arise from, signing the acknowledgment.
  2. Claim of paternity.  If the mother of the child fails or refuses to join in the acknowledgment of paternity provided for in subsection (a), the Department of Public Welfare shall index it as a claim of paternity.  The filing and indexing of a claim of paternity shall not confer upon the putative father any rights as to the child except that the putative father shall be entitled to notice of any proceedings brought to terminate any parental rights as to the child.
  3. Duty of hospital or birthing center.  Upon the birth of a child to an unmarried woman, an agent of the hospital or birthing center where the birth occurred shall:
    • Provide the newborn’s birth parents with an opportunity to complete an acknowledgment of paternity.  The completed, signed and witnessed acknowledgment shall be sent to the Department of Public Welfare.  A copy shall be given to each of the birth parents.  This acknowledgment shall contain:
      • A signed, witnessed statement subject to 18 Pa.C.S. §4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) by the birth mother consenting to the acknowledgment of paternity.
      • A signed, witnessed statement subject to 18 Pa.C.S. §4904 by the birth father acknowledging his paternity.
      • A written explanation of the parental duties and parental rights which arise from signing such a statement.
      • The Social Security numbers and addresses of both birth parents.
    • Provide written information, furnished by the department to the birth mother and birth father, which explains the benefits of having the child’s paternity established, the availability of paternity establishment services and the availability of child support enforcement agencies.
  4. Conclusive evidence.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an acknowledgment of paternity shall constitute conclusive evidence of paternity without further judicial ratification in any action to establish support.  The court shall give full faith and credit to an acknowledgment of paternity signed in another state according to its procedures.
  5. Transfer.  The Department of Health shall transfer to the Department of Public Welfare all acknowledgments or claims of paternity filed with the Department of Health under prior statutes.
  6. Certifications.  The Department of Public Welfare shall provide necessary certifications under Part III (relating to adoption) as to whether any acknowledgment or claim of paternity has been filed in regard to any child who is a prospective adoptive child.
  7. Recission.
    • Notwithstanding any other provisions of law, a signed voluntary, witnessed acknowledgment of paternity subject to 18 Pa.C.S. §4904 shall be considered a legal finding of paternity, subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of the following:
      • sixty days; or
      • the date of an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child, including, but not limited to, a domestic relations section conference, or a proceeding to establish a support order in which the signatory is a party;
    • After the expiration of the 60 days, an acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact, which must be established by the challenger through clear and convincing evidence.  An order for support shall not be suspended during the period of challenge except for good cause shown.
  8. Penalties for noncompliance.  The department may impose a civil penalty of not to exceed $500 per day upon a hospital or birthing center which is not in compliance with the provisions of this section.  A penalty under this subsection is subject to 2 Pa.C.S. Ch. 5 Subch.A (relating to practice and procedures of Commonwealth agencies) and Ch. 7 Subch. A (relating to judicial review of Commonwealth agency action).
  9. Status of father.  The name of the father shall be included on the record of birth of the child of unmarrried parents only if one of the following applies:
    • The father and mother have signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.
    • A court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction has issued an adjudication of paternity.

23 Pa.C.S. §5104 Blood tests to determine paternity

  1. Short title of section.  This section shall be known and may be cited as the Uniform Act on Blood Tests to Determine Paternity.
  2. Scope of section.
    • Civil matters.  This section shall apply to all civil matters.
    • Criminal proceedings.  This section shall apply to all criminal proceedings subject to the following limitations and provisions:
      • An order for the tests shall be made only upon application of party or on the initiative of the court.
      • The compensation of the experts shall be paid by the party requesting the blood test or by the county, as the court shall direct.
      • The court may direct a verdict of acquittal upon the conclusions of all the experts under subsection (f).  Otherwise, the case shall be submitted for determination upon all the evidence.
      • The refusal of a defendant to submit to the tests may not be used in evidence against the defendant.
  3. Authority for test.  In any matter subject to this section in which paternity, parentage or identity of a child is a relevant fact, the court, upon its own initiative or upon suggestion made by or on behalf of any person whose blood is involved, may or, upon motion of any party to the action made at a time so as not to delay the proceedings unduly. Shall order the mother, child and alleged father to submit to blood tests.  If any party refuses to submit to the tests, the court may resolve the question of paternity, parentage or identity of a child against the party or enforce its order if the rights of others and the interest of justice so require.
  4. Selection of experts.  The tests shall be made by experts qualified as examiners of blood types, who shall be appointed by the court.  The experts shall be called by the court as witnesses to testify to their findings and shall be subject to cross-examination by the parties.  Any party or person at whose suggestion the tests have been ordered may demand that other experts qualified as examiners of blood types perform independent tests under order of court, the results of which may be offered in evidence.  The number and qualifications of experts shall be determined by the court.
  5. Compensation of experts.  The compensation of each expert witness appointed by the court shall be fixed at a reasonable amount.  It shall be paid as the court shall order.  Subject to general rules, the court may order that it be paid by the parties in such proportions and at such times as it shall prescribe or that the proportion of any party be paid by the county and that, after payment by parties or the county, or both, all or part or none of it be taxed as costs in the action.  Subject to general rules, the fee of an expert witness called by the party calling him, but shall not be taxed as costs in the action.
  6. Effect of test results.  If the court finds that the conclusions of al the experts as disclosed by th evidence based upon the tests are that the alleged father is not the father of the child, the question of paternity, parentage or identity of a child shall be resolved accordingly.  If the experts disagree in their findings or conclusions, the question shall be submitted upon all the evidence.
  7. Effect on presumption of legitimacy.  The presumption of legitimacy of a child born during wedlock is overcome if the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts as disclosed by the evidence based upon the tests show that the husband is not the father of the child.