Pennsylvania Paternity Law
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Pennsylvania Paternity Law: Rule 1910.15 – Paternity.
(a) Acknowledgment of Paternity. If the action seeks support for a child born out of wedlock and the alleged father is named as defendant, the defendant may acknowledge paternity in a verified writing. The conference officer shall advise the parties that pursuant to Section 5103(d) of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes an acknowledgment constitutes conclusive evidence of defendant’s paternity without further judicial ratification in any action to establish support. Upon defendant’s execution of the written acknowledgment, the action shall proceed as in other actions for support.
(b) Genetic Testing. If the defendant appears but does not execute an acknowledgment of paternity at the conference:
(1) The court shall enter an order directing the parties to appear for genetic testing. The order must advise the defendant that his failure to appear for the testing will result in entry of an order finding that he is the father of the child. The order must also advise the plaintiff that her failure to appear for testing may result in sanctions, including entry of an order dismissing the paternity action without prejudice.
(2) The conference officer shall advise and provide written notice to the parties that they may enter into a written stipulation whereby both agree to submit to genetic testing for the purpose of resolving finally the issue of paternity. If the test results indicate a 99% or higher probability of paternity, the defendant shall be stipulated to be the biological father of the child and the case referred for a child support conference. If the test results indicate an exclusion, the action shall be dismissed. The written stipulation constitutes a waiver of the right to a hearing on the genetic testing or trial on the issue of paternity.
(3) The conference officer shall advise and provide written notice to the parties that if they do not enter into a written stipulation and the test results do not indicate an exclusion, there will be a hearing regarding genetic testing or trial before a judge without a jury on the issue of paternity in accordance with the procedures set forth in subdivision (d) of this Rule.
(c) Estoppel and Presumption of Paternity. If either party or the court raises the issue of estoppel or the issue of whether the presumption of paternity is applicable, the court shall dispose promptly of the issue and may stay the order for genetic testing until the issue is resolved.
(d) Post-Testing Procedures.
(1) The results of the genetic tests shall be provided in writing to counsel for the parties or, if unrepresented, to the parties themselves.
(2) If the results of the genetic tests resolve the issue of paternity pursuant to the stipulation of the parties, a paternity order shall be entered and served on the parties. If the defendant is excluded, the action shall be dismissed. If the defendant is stipulated to be the biological father, the action shall proceed as in other actions for support.
(3) If the results of the genetic tests do not resolve the issue of paternity pursuant to the stipulation of the parties, but the test results indicate a 99% or more probability of paternity, the court shall issue a rule against the defendant to show cause why an order should not be entered finding him to be the father. The rule shall advise the defendant that pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S. § 4343 his defense is limited to a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the results of the genetic tests are not reliable. The rule shall direct that an answer be filed within 20 days after service of the rule on the defendant. The answer shall state the material facts which constitute this defense. Any allegation of fact which does not appear of record must be verified. If an answer is not timely filed, the court shall enter an order finding paternity and refer the action to conference and hearing as in other actions for support. If an answer is filed raising a disputed issue of material fact relating to the reliability of the genetic testing, the case shall be listed promptly for expedited hearing before a judge. The burden of proof at the hearing is on the defendant and is limited to proof by clear and convincing evidence that the results of the genetic tests are not reliable.
(4) If the results of the genetic tests do not resolve the issue of paternity and the test results indicate less than a 99% probability of paternity, the case shall be promptly listed for expedited trial before a judge.
(5) If, after a hearing or trial, the decision is for the defendant on the issue of paternity, a final order shall be entered by the court dismissing the action as to the child. If the decision is against the defendant on the issue of paternity, an interlocutory order shall be entered by the court finding paternity. The court may enter an interim order for child support at that time and shall refer the action to conference and hearing as in other actions for support.
(e) Failure to Appear. If defendant fails to appear as ordered for a conference, hearing or trial, or for genetic tests, the court shall, upon proof of service on the defendant, enter an order establishing paternity. The court may also enter an interim order for child support at that time and shall refer the action to conference and hearing as in other actions for support.
f) Appeal of Paternity Order. An order establishing paternity is not an appealable order. The issue of paternity may be included in an appeal from the final order of child support.
Source The provisions of this Rule 1910.15 adopted April 23, 1981, effective July 22, 1981, 11 Pa.B. 1625; amended October 19, 1983, effective January 1, 1984, 13 Pa.B. 3629; amended March 30, 1994, effective July 1, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 1941 and 1953; amended March 24, 1997, effective July 1, 1997, 27 Pa.B. 1549; amended May 21, 2000, effective July 1, 2000, 30 Pa.B. 3155. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (256279) to (256280).
Required Probability of Paternity for Pennsylvania Courts: 99%
Required Paternity Index: None
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