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How Has Paternity Changed as a Legal Issue?

For some time, paternity has been a family law issue, but even more so because of both the increased number of unmarried women and the increased rate of divorce.

Through genetic testing, medical professionals can be 99 percent sure about a child’s paternity. Establishing paternity benefits a child because the child receives child support payments, insurance benefits, Social Security benefits, medical history and it allows the child to be an heir under Pennsylvania intestacy succession laws. Both establishment and disestablishment of paternity have become a focal point of some legal issues. A husband getting a divorce who questions paternity can obtain genetic testing and challenge the obligation for child support.

Major legal changes in determining paternity occurred when Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, which required all states to do the following:

  • Adopt procedures that allowed parents to voluntarily acknowledge paternity through written admission
  • Recognize paternity acknowledgements from other states
  • Allow parents to retract voluntary paternity acknowledgments within 60 days of a child support administrative or judicial hearing

The Paternity Establishment Symposium Summary published by the Center for the Support of Families, which is under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reported that since 1995, there has been a 60 percent increase in establishing paternity in child support cases, and more than half of the established paternities resulted from voluntary acknowledgement of parents when the child was born.

When you consult with a lawyer whose firm is devoted to family law, you can receive expert legal advice for making the right decisions. If you have questions about establishing paternity or need legal help with resolving issues, contact an experienced family law attorney.

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