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In Georgia, when the child(ren) is born out of wedlock, the biological mother has inherent rights to the child(ren) and establishing a fathers’ paternity rights can be more involved. While a married father’s paternity is automatically established at the child(ren)’s birth, the mother must have a court order to establish paternity of the biological father, to require him to provide support for the child(ren).
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Why is Legitimation Important?
A paternity action is brought by the biological mother to establish paternity of the father and to require him to provide support for the child(ren). A paternity action does not provide the biological father with any custodial, parental, or visitation rights to the child(ren).
Rather, the biological father files an action for legitimation, to legitimate the child(ren), and to establish his custodial, parental, or visitation rights. The mother files an action to establish paternity.
Chambers Family Law can provide the necessary expertise and support to help you through this process. Our attorneys have extensive experience in paternity actions.
Legal Definition of Paternity in Atlanta
In Georgia, both the mother and father who are married when a child(ren) is born have equal rights as parents. However, if the parents are unmarried, only the biological mother has legal and physical custody rights to the child(ren); and accordingly, the father has no obligation to provide any support for or on behalf of the child(ren).
A court order declaring paternity can establish the following:
Child support: The biological father of a child(ren) born out of wedlock can be ordered to pay child support in a paternity action, as well as provide other benefits for the child(ren), such as healthcare benefits and provide any special needs the child(ren) may have.
Health care: Established paternity allows a father to include their child(ren) born out of wedlock on a health insurance policy.
Paternity is an important issue and requires solid, experienced legal advice. Anytime a child(ren)’s future is being considered, we take the utmost care to advise our clients with compassion and understanding for how important these decisions will be and the mark they will leave across the child(ren)’s entire lifetime.
Our Chambers Family Law attorneys are skilled at representing clients regarding paternity actions. Allow us to help you navigate this safely.
Establishing Paternity in Atlanta
Under Georgia law, a child(ren)’s alleged biological father is the man who impregnated the child’s mother, resulting in the child(ren)’s birth.
The “legal” father can be the person who:
- Legally adopted the child(ren)
- Married the mother at the time the child(ren) was conceived or born, making him the “presumed father” (absent any paternity or legitimation order by a court, establishing otherwise).
- Legitimated the child(ren) by an order of the court.
Legal paternity of your child(ren) can be established in several ways:
- Voluntary acknowledgment
- Genetic testing
- Court order
Voluntary Paternity Establishment
Voluntary Paternity Establishment occurs when both the mother and father sign and notarize a voluntary paternity acknowledgment form either at the hospital at the time of the child(ren)’s birth, or later at the Georgia State Office of Vital Records.
By completing the paternity acknowledgment form, the biological father’s name can be added to the child(ren)’s birth certificate, the child(ren) can receive financial support and health coverage from the father, and the child(ren) can be eligible for social security benefits from the father.
Genetic Testing can establish paternity of a child(ren). Either mother or father can make a motion for the court to order the mother, alleged father, and the child(ren) to submit to genetic testing.
Establishing legal paternity can benefit the child(ren) born out of wedlock by helping them obtain child support and other benefits (including VA benefits, social security, pension, retirement, and life insurance) and/or by allowing access to medical insurance.
Our experienced paternity attorneys can help guide you through this process, considering all relevant factors, so that you avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety as you work to establish paternity and obtain support for your child(ren).
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Frequently Asked Questions About Paternity
In Georgia, there is no clear time limitation established by law to file a petition to determine paternity.
A petition to voluntarily paternity, when both mother and father agree, can be established very quickly. However, if paternity is contested by the father and genetic testing is required, the process can take a longer time to process.
Without establishing paternity, the biological mother cannot obtain child support or any other financial assistance from the biological father. The child(ren) would also not be eligible to benefit from the father’s financial resources like social security or VA benefits, nor eligible for health insurance under the father’s coverage.