If you pay or receive child support in Pennsylvania, your child will experience many benefits, and you and your child’s other parent may, too, enjoy benefits that might include an improved relationship. Child support is money paid by one parent to the other for the purpose of providing for a child’s needs, with the money frequently going toward food, housing, health care costs and other necessities.

In addition to helping give your child the things he or she needs, collecting or receiving child support can:

  • Give unwed fathers an opportunity to pursue child custody or visitation
  • Give a child access to a father’s employee and Social Security benefits
  • Give a child inheritance rights in the event of his or her father’s passing
  • Improve a child’s odds of being successful in school
  • Allow a child to have a better understanding of his or her family history
  • Make a child less likely to become pregnant as a teen

The first step in securing child support from the father’s side typically involves proving paternity, which you can generally do through one of two methods.

Establishing paternity

Fathers who are not married to a child’s mother will not have legal rights or child support obligations until they establish paternity. To establish paternity, both parents can sign a document known as an Acknowledgement of Paternity. If this does not happen, the next step involves securing a court order. To confirm or refute paternity, the child, the mother and the father all must submit to DNA tests.

Factors that impact child support amounts

Once you establish paternity, the next step in enacting a child support order involves determining how much to pay or receive. In Pennsylvania, the state’s goal is to ensure that a child without married parents has access to the same amount of money he or she would with married parents. A support officer will look at factors such as a child’s specific needs and how long each parent has the child in his or her care in determining a child support amount.

Establishing a child support order offers many benefits for the entire family, and it can improve the chances that your child is able to grow and thrive just as well as he or she would if his or her parents’ union was still intact.