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

Paternity Archives

Paternity in Pennsylvania: The Myth of Paternity by Estoppel

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.

Paternity in Pennsylvania: If I have a Child with a Married Woman, Do I have Custody Rights 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.

Sperm Donor Law in Pittsburgh

Pennsylvania sperm donation is a growing industry for men. Often, one of the main concerns men have is that after donation occurs, they will find themselves being sued for child support even though they never intended to "parent" the child. Twenty years ago, this may have been a more significant issue for prospective sperm donors. As technology has expanded in the area of assisted reproduction in PA, so have the laws regarding these topics.

Establishing Paternity in Allegheny County

The presumption of paternity in Allegheny County has evolved over the years. Originally, paternity was presumed if a man and woman were married and the woman gave birth to a child. Unless the man had no access to the woman or had been proven to be sterile, the child would be legally presumed to be his. Because of this presumption, no third party could assert their own claim of paternity to the child. 

Paternity by Estopple

In Pennsylvania, paternity by estopple is a doctrine that functions to prohibit a person from denying paternity due to his conduct. Estopple can also be used to prevent a third party from making a claim that he is actually the father. The doctrine of estopple centers around the idea that the best interest of the child is the most important factor when it comes to paternity and custody law. The court does not want to force the child to start a relationship with a stranger instead of continuing the relationship with the father the child has know all along.

Paternity: A Presumption

In Pennsylvania, there is something known as a presumption of paternity when referring to a child that is born to a married couple. Under this presumption, the law assumes that a child born or conceived during an intact marriage is a child of that marriage. This means that husband and wife are presumed to be mom and dad. This presumption is very strong and extremely difficult to overcome.