Reviews

Reginald Black

Feb 20, 2017

I can\'t say enough about Kathleen Gingrich. I needed her services at a very difficult time in my life. ...

Deb Hoffert

Feb 08, 2017

I can not say enough great things about this law firm. Everyone is extremely knowledgeable, professional and above all else ...

John Arena

Feb 01, 2017

Peter Russo and the staff at his firm have handled my personal and professional business for almost a decade. His ...

rick scott

Feb 01, 2017

Peter was easy to work with and handled my case first class. He was knowledgeable about my case (possible age ...

Jenn Spears Brenize

Feb 01, 2017

Peter is extremely knowledgeable and aggressive, yet even-tempered. He is professional, diligent, and compassionate, and responsive to his clients\' ...

Cliffeton green

Oct 30, 2018

Very professional knows what he\'s doing. Very good with people.

Karen Young

Oct 30, 2018

Mr. Russo gives very solid business guidance. He clearly understands the law but, more importantly, the needs of a business ...

Heather E Steavens-Jones

Oct 30, 2018

If you want a lawyer to give you guidance with your interests as a priority then Pete Russo is the ...

Tami Johnson

Oct 30, 2018

Pete and his team were exceptional in helping my husband and I buy our first small business. Couldn\'t have ...

Lori Keim

Oct 29, 2018

Peter is knowledgeable, caring and honest. I have found his advice to be more focused on what is right for ...

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How can unwed fathers in Pennsylvania gain child custody and visitation rights?

Child custody matters are often discussed in the context of a parents’ divorce. However, today an increasing number of U.S. children are born to unwed mothers with the Centers for Control and Disease Prevention estimating that during 2013, 41 percent of babies were born to mothers who were not married.

In the eyes of the law, an unwed mother who gives birth is automatically awarded sole legal and physical custody of the baby. This is true regardless of whether or not the baby’s father is in a committed relationship with the mother or has plans to be part of the child’s life. In order for an unwed father to have any legally recognized parenting rights to a child, steps must be taken to establish paternity.

In cases where both parents are in agreement about the father’s paternity, they can voluntarily sign and file a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” with the court. In cases where one parent disputes paternity, either party can file a petition for a child support order. If necessary, a DNA test may be preformed to confirm paternity.

Unwed parents who fail to establish paternity are doing both themselves and their child a disservice. Taking the appropriate legal steps to identify oneself as a child’s father is especially important for a father who would otherwise have no legal rights to petition for child custody or visitation. Additionally, barring a paternity confirmation, a child’s mother is not able to file a petition for child support.

Child custody disputes are often highly emotional and may become contentious. It’s always wise, therefore, to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney when dealing with matters including paternity, child custody and child support.

Source: Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center, “Establishing Paternity,” March 27, 2015