If I Sign Away Rights to My Child Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support?
A parent may also have rights terminated, either by voluntary relinquishment or judicial termination. A judicial termination requires proof that the parent is unfit and/or poses a threat of harm to the child. The court may order termination of the parent-child relationship if the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the parent engaged in conduct or knowingly placed the child with persons who engaged in conduct which endangers the physical or emotional well-being of the child, or the parent is convicted an a child abuse offense. A termination of parental rights voids any rights and obligations toward the child. The parent will no longer have rights to custody or visitation and will no longer owe a duty of support.
Termination of parental rights will typically end the obligation for child support at that point, but not erase liability for past due support. Often, relinquishment of parental rights will not be allowed if done for the purpose of avoiding child support payments. If voluntary termination is petitioned for, the mother will be required to receive notice and may exopress her lack of consent at the hearing. The answer will be a matter of determination for the court, based on all the circumstances involved, such as proof of paternity. The overall consideration for the court is the best interests of the child. We suggest you contact a local attorney who can review all the facts and documents involved.
Please see the following PA statutes:
Rule 15.3. Voluntary Relinquishment to Adult Intending to Adopt Child
(a) Petition. A petition under Section 302 of the Adoption Act to
relinquish parental rights with respect to a child who has been in the
exclusive care of an adult or adults who have filed a Report of Intention
to Adopt shall include the allegations required under subparagraphs (1),
(2), (3), (4), (7), (8) and (9) of rule 15.2(a) and
(1) the date when the Report of Intention to Adopt was filed;
(2) the date when the child was placed with the adult or adults;
(b) Exhibits. The petition shall have attached to it the first three
exhibits specified in Rule 15.2(b) and
(1) the separate consent of the adult or adults to accept custody of
(c) Notice and Hearing. If a parent, including the parent of a child
born out of wedlock, has not relinquished his or her rights in the child
or joined in the petition hereunder, then notice of the hearing on a
parent's petition to relinquish rights shall be given to the first
referred to parent as provided in Rule 15.6. A parent may waive in
writing the right to such notice. Each petitioner and each person whose
joinder or consent is attached to the petition shall be examined under
oath at the hearing unless excused by the court.
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
acknowledgement 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
acknowledgement 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 farther 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% of 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.
(i) If the defendant is excluded, the action shall be dismissed;
(ii) 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 farther. The rule shall advise the
defendant that pursuant to 23 Pa.C.D. § 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 to be filed
within 20 days after service of the rule on the defendant. The answer
shall state the material facts which constitute the 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 listed promptly for expedited trial before a
(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
(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.
23 Pa.C.S.A. § 4343. Paternity
(a) Determination. — Where the paternity of a child born out of wedlock
is disputed, the determination of paternity shall be made by the court in
a civil action without a jury. A putative father may not be prohibited
from initiating a civil action to establish paternity. The burden of
proof shall be by a preponderance of the evidence. Bills for pregnancy,
childbirth, postnatal care related to the pregnancy and genetic testing
are admissible as evidence without requiring third-party foundation
testimony and shall constitute prima facie evidence of amounts incurred
for such services or for testing on behalf of the child. If there is
clear and convincing evidence of paternity on the basis of genetic tests
or other evidence, the court shall upon motion of a party issue a
temporary order of support pending the judicial resolution of a dispute
regarding paternity. The Supreme Court shall provide by general rule for
entry of a default order establishing paternity upon a showing of service
of process on the defendant and a subsequent failure to appear for
scheduled genetic testing.
(b) Limitation of actions. —
(1) An action or proceeding under this chapter to establish the
paternity of a child born out of wedlock must be commenced within 18
years of the date of birth of the child.
(2) As of August 16, 1984, the requirement of paragraph (b)(1) shall
also apply to any child for whom paternity has not yet been established
and any child for whom a paternity action was brought but dismissed
because of a prior statute of limitations of less than 18 years.
(c) Genetic tests. —
(1) Upon the request of any party to an action to establish
paternity, supported by a sworn statement from the party, the court or
domestic relations section shall require the child and the parties to
submit to genetic tests. The domestic relations section shall obtain an
additional genetic test upon the request and advance payment by any
party who contests the initial test.
(2) Genetic test results indicating a 99% or greater probability that
the alleged father is the father of the child shall create a
presumption of paternity which may be rebutted only by clear and
convincing evidence that the results of the genetic tests are not
reliable in that particular case.
(3) To ensure the integrity of the specimen and that the proper chain
of custody has been maintained, the genetic tests of the biological
mother, the child or children in question and the alleged father should
be conducted by an established genetic-testing laboratory in the course
of its regularly conducted business activity, and certified records
should be issued. The certified records shall be admissible into
evidence without further foundation, authentication or proof of
accuracy if no objection is made within ten days prior to trial. The
laboratory must be certified by either the American Association of
Blood Banks or the American Association for Histocompatibility and
(4) If the court or domestic relations section orders genetic
testing, the domestic relations section shall pay the cost of the
test, subject to recoupment from the alleged father if paternity is
(5) A determination of paternity made by another state, whether
through judicial proceedings, administrative proceedings or by
acknowledgment of paternity, shall be given full faith and credit in
the courts of this Commonwealth.
(6) A determination of nonpaternity made by another state with
respect to a public assistance recipient shall not be binding upon the
Department of Public Welfare unless the defendant shows that the
department had actual notice of the proceedings, including the date and
time of any trial, and a fair opportunity to participate in all
material proceedings through counsel of its own choice.
23 Pa.C.S.A. § 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, 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 P. 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 P. 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 P. 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
(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
(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 P. 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
(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
(h) Penalties for noncompliance. — The department may impose a civil
penalty of 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 P. 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
(1) The father and mother have signed a voluntary acknowledgment of
(2) A court or administrative agency of competent jurisdiction has
issued an adjudication of paternity.