Over the recent weeks, we have discussed the concept of paternity in Pennsylvania courts. However, we have yet to answer the question. How does one obtain a court ordered paternity test in as Western Pennsylvania court? As you may be aware, there are over the counter drug store paternity tests that can prove with reasonable certainty whether someone is or is not the father of a child. However, these paternity tests much like other out of court resources do not usually stand up in court. Often the court will discredit these tests as hearsay or question their validity as a result of problems with the chain of custody. Sometimes parties will agree to obtain a paternity test through a respected lab and stipulate that the results are correct.
Last week we addressed the issue of the presumption of paternity in married couples in Pennsylvania. This week, we will address the "myth" of paternity by estoppel in Pennsylvania child custody and support cases. Many people believe that paternity is based on the genetic code, and, in most cases, it is. However, Pennsylvania courts have developed the concept of paternity by estoppel in cases where it would be more detrimental for the child to learn their father was not their father than it would be to have someone who is not the biological father have standing to seek custody or to pay support.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled last month that Civil Unions should be treated like divorces in Pennsylvania. The court decided this after reviewing a Philadelphia court's decision in Neyman v. Buckley. In this case, the appellant appealed the decision of the court to dismiss her complaint for divorce seeking dissolution of her Vermont civil union. The Superior court held that "the Vermont civil union creates the functional equivalent of marriage for the purposes of dissolution and that Neyman had the right to proceed with her divorce in Pennsylvania.
One of the common issues in Pennsylvania custody litigation relates to paternity. That is who is the father and who has rights to seek custody. Many first time litigants assume that this determination is made through a DNA test that proves that the child is or is not the biological child of one individual or the other. However, that is not always the case in Pennsylvania. We will be presenting a series of blogs about paternity issues in Pennsylvania. The first question we tackle is whether it is possible to gain custody rights of a child that is the produce of an affair.