The Rights of Unmarried Parents - Pennsylvania

Date: June 2022


Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 5102

For purposes of prescribing benefits to children born out of wedlock by, from, and through the genetic parent, parentage 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 genetic parent openly holds out the child to be theirs and either receives the child into their home or provides support for the child
  • If there is clear and convincing evidence that the person is the genetic parent of the child, including a prior court determination of parentage

Use of Parentage Registries

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 5103

The other parent of a child born to an unmarried birth parent may file with the Department of Public Welfare, on forms prescribed by the department, an acknowledgment of parentage of the child that shall include the consent of the birth parent of the child.

If the child's birth parent fails or refuses to join in the acknowledgment of parentage, the department shall index it as a claim of parentage. The filing and indexing of a claim of parentage shall not confer upon the putative other parent any rights as to the child except that the putative other parent shall be entitled to notice of any proceeding brought to terminate any parental rights to the child.

An acknowledgment of parentage shall constitute conclusive evidence of parentage without further judicial ratification in any action to establish support. The court shall give full faith and credit to an acknowledgment of parentage signed in another State according to its procedures.

Alternate Means to Establish Parentage

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 5103; 4343; 5104

The name of the other parent shall be included on the birth record of the child of unmarried parents only if one of the following applies:

  • The birth parent and other parent have signed a voluntary acknowledgment of parentage.
  • A court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction has issued an adjudication of parentage.

Upon the request of any party to an action to establish parentage, supported by a sworn statement from the party, the court shall require the child and the parties to submit to genetic tests. Genetic test results indicating a 99-percent or greater probability that the alleged other parent is the genetic parent of the child shall create a presumption of parentage that may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence that the results of the genetic tests are not reliable in that particular case.

In any matter in which parentage or identity of a child is a relevant fact, the court may or, upon motion of any party to the action, shall order the birth parent, child, and alleged other parent to submit to blood tests. If the court finds that the conclusions of all the experts, as disclosed by the evidence based upon the tests, are that the alleged other parent is not the genetic parent of the child, the question of parentage or identity of a child shall be resolved accordingly.

Required Information

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 5103

This acknowledgment shall contain the following:

  • A signed, witnessed statement by the birth parent consenting to the acknowledgment of parentage
  • A signed, witnessed statement by the other parent acknowledging their parentage
  • A written explanation of the parental duties and parental rights that arise from signing such a statement
  • The Social Security numbers and addresses of both birth parents

Revocation of Claim to Parentage

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 23, § 5103

A signed, voluntary, witnessed acknowledgment of parentage shall be considered a legal finding of parentage, subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of the following:

  • Sixty days
  • The date of an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child, including, but not limited to, a proceeding to establish a support order in which the signatory is a party

After the expiration of the 60 days, an acknowledgment of parentage may be challenged in court based only fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact that 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.

Access to Information

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.