The Legal Implications of Legitimation

When a man establishes paternity, he is required to pay support for his children. Unfortunately, unmarried fathers have no right to see their children until they establish a biological relationship by filing a Petition for Legitimation in court.

The family law attorneys at Banks, Stubbs & McFarland would like to provide an overview of the methods of determining paternity or legitimation and the legal rights and responsibilities that accompany fatherhood.

Importance of Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity enables his child to be covered under his health insurance and to have access to Social Security benefits. Besides the numerous financial benefits, a child who has a connection to their father will have knowledge of any hereditary medical conditions.

When paternity is confirmed, your child will be heir to your estate. If you have a will and stipulate that your child will receive 100% of your assets, confirming paternity ensures your child will inherit as stipulated.

Methods of Determining Paternity

Paternity must be confirmed in all child support cases where the mother and father are unmarried. In Georgia, there are two ways to confirm paternity: mandatory paternity testing or by completing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form. Let us dive into what you need to know about both.

Mandatory Paternity Testing

Paternity testing can involve a blood test or a cheek swab. For the blood test, both the potential father and child give blood samples in a medical setting. In a cheek swab, the buccal cells of both the potential father and child are tested to see if they are a genetic match.

Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form

If you choose to complete a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form, then you can fill out the form when your child is born or soon after. If you decide to change your mind, you have only 60 days to rescind.

The requirements to fill out the Acknowledge Form are:

  • The mother must have given birth in Georgia
  • The father must be the child’s biological father
  • Both parents must sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form

Rights and Responsibilities of Fatherhood

A father has the responsibility of financially providing for his children. When paternity is confirmed in a child custody case, the court will decide your monthly support payment.

This amount will be sent to the parent with whom the child lives to help pay for the child’s basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, and transportation).

Paternity does not guarantee that you will have visitation with your child.


As the biological father, you can seek visitation rights or child custody. The court usually assumes that the involvement of both parents in a child’s life will be enriching unless there is evidence to the contrary. A judge will determine whether you will share physical or legal custody with the custodial parent, always making decisions based on what is best for your child.

The process for this is called legitimation. It is filing a case against the mother of your child to seek to establish a custody and visitation order. 

Speak with our Cumming, GA Family Law Lawyer Today

Confirming paternity is key to being a part of your child’s life. If you have questions regarding paternity, do not hesitate to reach out to our family law lawyers today. Contact us online or by phone to learn what we have to offer.