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Fathers have their own reasons for wanting to establish paternity. Sometimes there are emotional reasons behind seeking certain legal rights as a father. While some fathers are hoping they can do all they can to provide financially for their child.

If you’d like to establish paternity, then getting a better understanding of the procedure and the benefits of it can help you initiate the process.

When the parents of a child aren’t legally married, there are a couple different ways that a father can establish paternity in the state of Pennsylvania.

  • Outside of court: One method that you can pursue legal parentage is through paperwork. Either at the hospital following the birth of your child or further down the line, you can fill out an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) form. An AOP isn’t complete until both parents and a third-party witness sign the form.
  • Court approval: When signing an AOP isn’t doable in your case then, you can take the matter to court. After filing a petition and attending a court hearing, a judge will decide on your paternity rights. Through this option, it’s likely the court will ask you to take a DNA test.

After successfully establishing paternity you can:

  • Pass along family name: Your name will appear on your child’s birth certificate. For many fathers, this has both sentimental and cultural value attached to it.
  • Provide financially: You will be responsible for paying child support to take care of your child until they are 18 years of age. Paying for child support can allow you to give your child quality care and may strengthen your bond.
  • Pursue benefits: Legal paternity is also a gateway to eligibility for Social Security, health care and U.S. Military benefits.

Knowing your options and what creating a legal relationship with your child may do for you and your family is a good starting point. From there, you can seek additional guidance on navigating the legalities of paternity from an experienced family law attorney.