The Legal Situation For Unmarried Parents in Pennsylvania

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By Lisa Marie Vari on Google+

According to Face the Facts USA, millions of U.S. parents are unwed. The number of children born outside of marriage equates to roughly 4 of 10 children born in the U.S. during 2009. Still, unmarried parents face a very different legal landscape than married parents.

Parents to be or unmarried parents have a distinct set of concerns under Pennsylvania family law. Below is a list of things unwed parents need to know.

Any child born to a married couple is presumed to be the husband’s child. However, when parents are not married, there is no such presumption of paternity. To claim paternity of a child, a father should sign the birth certificate at the hospital or an affidavit declaring his paternity.

Naming both parents on the birth certificate will give each parent legal rights and responsibilities. These include custody and visitation rights and child support. For this reason, men considering whether to claim paternity should be sure that the child is their own. The presumption of paternity can be hard to defeat in court should the story change later on.

Unmarried parents don’t have fewer 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 should be prepared to face typical divorce issues. Should unwed parents decide to live apart, each parent should seek the advice of a child custody lawyer to decide how to proceed. The next step will be filing for physical and legal custody of the children.

Taxes also come up in child cases. Only one unwed parent can claim the child as a dependent on their taxes. Either parent is able to do so, so long as he or she supports the child. Often, the best way to decide which parent should claim the child is to decide which parent makes more money. The parent with the higher income will receive a bigger tax break. The parents can agree to split the tax return.

If you are an unwed parent or soon-to-be parent, speak with a Pennsylvania paternity lawyer. To schedule a meeting, contact us today.