Parents have a financial responsibility to support their children, regardless of whether they are married, divorced, or were never married at all. A father may have rights to custody, visitation, and participating in decisions about his child, even if he was never married to the child’s mother and is not primarily involved in raising the child.
Paternity cases can raise many issues, particularly when a father’s rights or responsibilities are being challenged or invoked. Cam Law provides knowledgeable and effective representation in paternity matters in Carrollton, Georgia. Learn more about paternity below, or call our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced Carrolltonpaternity lawyer.
Georgia parentage law distinguishes between paternity and legitimation. Paternity is the process for legally establishing who is a child’s biological father.
Legitimation, on the other hand, establishes the legal relationship between father and child. These are important distinctions with significant impacts. Paternity creates a child support obligation for the father, while legitimation may establish parental rights to participate in child custody and visitation.
Process to establish paternity
For a couple who are married when the child is born, the husband is legally considered to be the child’s biological father. If the couple are not married at the time, the father can acknowledge paternity by signing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form at the hospital. A notarized form can also later be filed with the State Office of Vital Records in Atlanta or the county Vital Records Office.
Process for legitimation
The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form mentioned above includes legitimation at the bottom of the form. A father can sign only the top and not recognize legitimacy while acknowledging paternity, or sign at the bottom and accomplish both paternity and legitimation at the same time.
Any time before the child turns one year old, the putative father can bring an action for legitimation in juvenile or superior court. The mother can contest the action, claiming that the father lost his opportunity to develop a relationship with the child and should not be legitimated. In a contested legitimation proceeding, having strong and effective advocacy from a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney can be crucial to the outcome of your case.