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Legal Information: Pennsylvania

Statutes: Pennsylvania

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December 14, 2023

5103. Acknowledgment and claim of paternity

(a) Acknowledgment of paternity.–The father of a child born to an unmarried woman may file with the Department of Public Welfare,1 on forms prescribed by the department, an acknowledgment of paternity of the child which shall include the consent of the mother of the child, supported by her witnessed statement subject to 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities). In such case, the father shall have all the rights and duties as to the child which he would have had if he had been married to the mother at the time of the birth of the child, and the child shall have all the rights and duties as to the father which the child would have had if the father had been married to the mother at the time of birth. The hospital or other person accepting an acknowledgment of paternity shall provide written and oral notice, which may be through the use of video or audio equipment, to the birth mother and birth father of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of and the rights and responsibilities that arise from, signing the acknowledgment.

(b) Claim of paternity.–If the mother of the child fails or refuses to join in the acknowledgment of paternity provided for in subsection (a), the Department of Public Welfare shall index it as a claim of paternity. The filing and indexing of a claim of paternity shall not confer upon the putative father any rights as to the child except that the putative father shall be entitled to notice of any proceeding brought to terminate any parental rights as to the child.

(c) Duty of hospital or birthing center.–Upon the birth of a child to an unmarried woman, an agent of the hospital or birthing center where the birth occurred shall:

(1) Provide the newborn’s birth parents with an opportunity to complete an acknowledgment of paternity. The completed, signed and witnessed acknowledgment shall be sent to the Department of Public Welfare. A copy shall be given to each of the birth parents. This acknowledgment shall contain:

(i) A signed, witnessed statement subject to 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) by the birth mother consenting to the acknowledgment of paternity.

(ii) A signed, witnessed statement subject to 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 by the birth father acknowledging his paternity.

(iii) A written explanation of the parental duties and parental rights which arise from signing such a statement.

(iv) The Social Security numbers and addresses of both birth parents.

(2) Provide written information, furnished by the department to the birth mother and birth father, which explains the benefits of having the child’s paternity established, the availability of paternity establishment services and the availability of child support enforcement agencies.

(d) Conclusive evidence.–Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an acknowledgment of paternity shall constitute conclusive evidence of paternity without further judicial ratification in any action to establish support. The court shall give full faith and credit to an acknowledgment of paternity signed in another state according to its procedures.

(e) Transfer.–The Department of Health shall transfer to the Department of Public Welfare all acknowledgments or claims of paternity filed with the Department of Health under prior statutes.

(f) Certifications.–The Department of Public Welfare shall provide necessary certifications under Part III (relating to adoption) as to whether any acknowledgment or claim of paternity has been filed in regard to any child who is a prospective adoptive child.

(g) Rescission.–

(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a signed, voluntary, witnessed acknowledgment of paternity subject to 18 Pa.C.S. § 4904 shall be considered a legal finding of paternity, subject to the right of any signatory to rescind the acknowledgment within the earlier of the following:

(i) sixty days; or

(ii) the date of an administrative or judicial proceeding relating to the child, including, but not limited to, a domestic relations section conference or a proceeding to establish a support order in which the signatory is a party.

(2) After the expiration of the 60 days, an acknowledgment of paternity may be challenged in court only on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact, which must be established by the challenger through clear and convincing evidence. An order for support shall not be suspended during the period of challenge except for good cause shown.

(h) Penalties for noncompliance.–The department may impose a civil penalty not to exceed $500 per day upon a hospital or birthing center which is not in compliance with the provisions of this section. A penalty under this subsection is subject to 2 Pa.C.S. Ch. 5 Subch. A (relating to practice and procedure of Commonwealth agencies) and Ch. 7 Subch. A (relating to judicial review of Commonwealth agency action).

(i) Status of father.–The name of the father shall be included on the record of birth of the child of unmarried parents only if one of the following applies:

(1) The father and mother have signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

(2) A court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction has issued an adjudication of paternity.