A putative father is a man whose legal relationship to a child has not yet been established. This may occur in a situation where the Mother of a child is not married and she alleges someone as the father or the man believes he is the father. Pennsylvania maintains a registry of putative fathers for the purpose of giving a man in such a position notice prior to any termination proceedings. Unmarried parties can agree to execute an acknowledgement of paternity to confirm the legal relationship. This acknowledgment is then submitted to the Department of Vital Records to update the birth records. If the parties are not agreeable to execute the acknowledgement, the alternative course of action is to file a petition for genetic testing.
Both parents will be ordered to participate in genetic testing. Failure to appear by the father can result in a court order declaring him as the father by default. Failure to appear by the mother can result in the court dismissing an action for support. Tests results alone are not sufficient to establish paternity. Instead, the parties must stipulate in writing that the test results prove paternity or the court must make an order on paternity after reviewing the test results. Once there is an order on paternity, at that point Vital Records can be contacted regarding updating their records. Additionally, any actions for support or custody of the child can proceed.