If you and your child’s co-parent never married, as the biological father you will need to establish your legal rights with the Court. Georgia law recognizes a child’s mother as their legal parent, but establishing legitimation requires legal steps.
A Marietta legitimation lawyer can help you whether you wish to establish your child’s paternity or defend a claim that you fathered a child you do not believe is yours. Let our team of talented child custody attorneys explain and protect your legal rights. Get in touch with the Atlanta Divorce Law Group today.
Georgia is different from most states because it still distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate children. A legitimate child was born to people who were married when the child was conceived or sometime afterward. A child is not legitimate if the parents never marry.
A man who has established paternity is the biological father of a child. A man could establish his paternity by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity. However, he will not have the legal right to custody, visitation, or decision-making responsibility unless he legitimates the child. This is true even when the parents live together and the man carries out the duties and responsibilities of a parent.
With this in mind, it is critical to legitimate a child as soon as possible after birth. The father could accomplish this by marrying the mother or seeking a family court order as the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 19-7-22 allows. A Marietta legitimation attorney can help a man prepare the petition to legitimate his child.
The biological relationship between a father and his child triggers the obligation for the father to pay child support. If the father did not sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, a mother or anyone else with custody of a child wishing to receive child support from the child’s father must establish the man’s paternity through a family court proceeding. If the child receives public benefits like PeachCare for Kids, the state’s Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) could file a petition to establish the child’s paternity.
Either parent, the child, or DCSS could bring a petition asking the court to order a DNA test. The petition must describe reasonable grounds for believing the man is the child’s father. If the DNA test establishes with at least 97 percent certainty that the man is the father, Georgia courts will issue an order of paternity requiring the man to pay child support. A Marietta attorney can prepare or defend a petition to establish paternity.
Paternity actions are usually straightforward. The DNA test determines whether the child and the alleged father have a biological relationship. If so, the man must pay child support; if not, he is not obligated to the child.
Complications arise if the woman was married to someone else when the child was conceived or born. The woman’s husband would be the child’s legal father, and depending on circumstances, a court might decide to allow him to continue in that role.
Paternity actions can be stressful, regardless of which side you are on. Working with an experienced Marietta paternity lawyer can ensure you know what to expect. Our firm can guide you and protect your rights throughout the process. Call today to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable member of our team.