How To Establish Paternity In Georgia
There are several reasons that a parent or another person may want to establish paternity. In most cases, establishing paternity is important to a parent who is seeking child support, or to a parent who wants to be eligible for child custody and other parental rights. Adult children also may seek to establish paternity to have an understanding of family history, genetics and medical history. Regardless of the reason for wanting to formalize paternity, it is important to understand that there are essentially three different ways of establishing paternity according to Georgia law.
Know the Difference Between Legitimation and Paternity
Before looking at the options for establishing paternity in Georgia, it is essential to understand the difference between legitimation and paternity. Georgia laws pertaining to legitimation and paternity are distinct from one another, although they can be easily confused given the similar subject matter. Paternity is a way of determining the biological father of the child, while legitimation is the process of verifying that a person is the legal father of the child with parental rights. Showing paternity is not enough for a father to seek custodial rights when a child is born to unmarried parents. The father usually must establish paternity and then file a legitimation petition.
Be Married When the Child is Conceived or Born
The first and easiest way to establish paternity under Georgia law is for the parents to be married either at the time the child is conceived, or for the parents to be married at the time of the child’s birth. Accordingly, if a woman gets pregnant and she is not yet married to the father, the parties can get married before the baby’s birth, and no other steps will be necessary to establish paternity or legitimation.
Sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form
If the parties are not married and do not want to marry, it is still possible to sign a voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form in Georgia. It is possible to sign a Paternity Acknowledgement Form either at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth, or in the State Office of Vital Records in Atlanta (or if the baby was born outside Atlanta in the county Vital Records Office where the child was born).
Have Genetic Testing
If neither marriage nor a Paternity Acknowledgement Form are options, then it is possible to establish paternity through genetic testing. The parent seeking to establish paternity can request the mother voluntarily submit to genetic testing. If the mother will not agree, the presumptive father may petition the court, and the court can order a paternity test to determine whether a person is the biological father of the child.
Contact Our Atlanta Paternity Lawyers for Assistance
If you have questions about paternity, or if you need assistance establishing paternity in Georgia for purposes of child support collections, legitimation, or another reason, one of our experienced Atlanta paternity legitimation attorneys can assist you. Contact Kaye, Lembeck, Hitt & French to learn more about how we can help with your paternity case.