Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

The Legal Situation For Unmarried Parents in Pennsylvania

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According to Face the Facts USA, an initiative from George Washington University, there is millions of unwed parents in the United States. According to the study, the number of children born outside of marriage equates to approximately four of every 10 children born in the United States during 2009. Though it has become so common, being unmarried parents is legally still quite different than being married parents.

Parents to be or unmarried parents have a very different set of concerns than married parents under Pennsylvania Family Law. The following is a list of things unwed parents need to understand:

Any child born to a married couple is legally presumed to be the child of the husband. However, when parents are not married, there is no such presumption of paternity upon the child's birth. To legally acknowledge paternity of a child, a Father should sign the birth certificate at the hospital or sign an affidavit acknowledging his paternity. Naming both parents on the birth certificate will give each parent legal rights and responsibilities such as custody and visitation rights, and child support. For this reason, men considering whether to acknowledge paternity should be absolutely sure that the child is their own as the presumption created by signing the birth certificate can be difficult to defeat in court should the story change somewhere down the line.

With regards to custody, unmarried parents have don't have less rights to custody of their children than married parents. Just like married couples who decide to divorce, unwed parents who decide they cannot co-parent together should be prepared to deal with the same legal issues facing all parents seeking custody of their children. Should unmarried parents decide to live separately, each parent should seek the advice of a knowledgeable child custody attorney to determine how to proceed with filing for physical and legal custody of their children.

Another issue that comes up in child related cases is taxes. Only one parent can claim the child as a dependent on their taxes if the parents are unmarried. Either unmarried parent is entitled to the exemption, so long as he or she supports the child. Typically, the best way to decide which parent should claim the child is to determine which parent has the higher income. The parent with the higher income will receive a bigger tax break. The parents can agree to split the tax return, even though only one parent is receiving it.

If you are an unmarried parent or soon to be parent, it is in your best interest to speak with a Pennsylvania paternity lawyer. For more information or to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact us today.

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