Do you have questions about what it means to establish paternity in Georgia and what this process looks like? Banks, Stubbs & McFarland have answers and we feel that it is important for our clients to understand the laws and legal proceedings that can apply to their cases. For legal help with the process of establishing paternity, contact our experienced family law attorneys.
What sometimes gets overlooked in conversations about child support is the importance of determining the identity of the father or establishing paternity. Indeed, while this is arguably not as pressing of a concern where the parents are legally married at the time of the child’s birth, it can become a vital issue in those scenarios where the child’s parents are unwed.
What exactly does “legitimating” mean and why is it important?
Legitimation serves to establish the father-child relationship. This is significant, as it assigns the father certain legal rights and responsibilities.
Can Georgia order child support without a paternity test?
The state of Georgia’s policy when it comes to families is that children should be supported by the efforts and talents of their parents. According to the law, it doesn’t matter whether parents are legally married or not, both have a general duty to provide financial support for the children. This means that even if a child is born out of wedlock, a parent can be responsible for making child support payments to a custodial parent for a child that does not live full-time with him or her.
According to Georgia law, a child’s biological mother is usually not in doubt; the mother’s name is recorded on the birth certificate, as the mother is always present at the birth of the child. A child’s biological father, on the other hand, may or may not be known at the time of birth. If a mother is married, her husband will be presumed to be the father of the child, but, if the child is born out of wedlock, paternity will have to be established via a paternity test.
Paternity in Georgia can be established administratively or by court order, and a DNA test can be involved. However, parents should understand that a finding of paternity is not the same as ‘legitimation.’ Briefly, the father of an out of wedlock child can be ordered to pay child support if paternity is legally established, but that will not give him full parental rights. To be granted those full rights, such as the ability to ask for custody and visitation, and have a say in child-rearing, the father must be ‘legitimated.’
Parents in Georgia who were not married to each other when the child was born should understand the differences between paternity and legitimation. Most importantly, fathers should realize that having a DNA test and being declared the father in a paternity action may obligate him to pay child support but not give him other rights.
If you are confused about your parental rights or want to clarify the child support you owe, contact our law firm today at 770-887-1209.
What is a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form?
If the child’s parents are legally married at the time of birth, the husband will be viewed as the father in the eyes of the law. Some of the other ways in which paternity can be established as it relates to unwed parents include by court order or signing of a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form.
The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form — or PA form — is a byproduct of the federal Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Program originally launched back in 1988 and updated over the years. Its purpose is simple: to facilitate the process of establishing paternity and legitimating a child born of unwed parents.