Under Georgia law, fathers have legal rights and responsibilities with respect to their children. However, in many cases, legal action is necessary to take advantage of the rights and enforce the responsibilities.
Paternity establishes a biological connection between a father and child. While paternity may be assumed in some situations, in others, parents need to work with a family law attorney to establish paternity in Atlanta.
Why it Is Important to Establish Paternity
When the father of a child is not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth, the law recognizes only the mother’s relationship with that child. To gain rights, the father must first establish paternity, which is the biological connection with that child. The father must also legitimate the child which establishes the legal connection before then seeking a court order for custody or visitation. In Georgia, a Father can establish paternity, legitimate the child, gain custody and gain parenting time in one petition.
Paternity Establishes Child Support Obligations
When paternity is legally established for a child, then the biological father may be required to pay child support. For that reason, a paternity action may be desirable from a mother’s point of view even if she does not want the father to have custody or visitation rights. The Mother does not have to consent to the father filing to establish paternity.
Paternity May Be Established Voluntarily
Parents who are not married may establish paternity through the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Program. To voluntarily establish paternity, legal forms may be executed at the hospital, at the Vital Records office in the county of the child’s birth, or at the State Office of Vital Records in Atlanta.
Paternity may also be established through a court order such as a divorce decree. When a couple is married at the time a child is born, the law presumes that the husband is the biological father. If that is not the case, prompt legal action to establish biological paternity is recommended as soon as possible.
Involuntary Testing for Paternity
The Georgia Division of Child Support Services conducts paternity testing in support cases where paternity has not already been legally determined. Paternity may be processed through Superior Court or an Administrative Court.
In most cases, if the alleged father is proven to be the biological father, he pays for the cost of testing. If paternity is disproved, then the mother who applied for support services must pay the testing costs.
Help with Paternity Cases in Atlanta
Whether you are seeking child support or want to establish your rights as a father, paternity cases in Georgia can be challenging to pursue because of the complex laws involved. At Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, P.C., we understand what’s at stake and we are prepared to fight to protect your rights and achieve your objectives. Contact us now to find out how we can help.