Establishing paternity in Georgia is the first step towards receiving father’s rights, such as visitation privileges and custody.
Regardless of how you choose to establish paternity, consulting with an attorney early in the process will make things go smoother. Don’t forget that after this has been established, you must also prove legitimation and then ask the court for parental rights. Establishing your link to the child is merely the first step in a detail-specific process.
If you are married at the time of your child’s birth, paternity is considered already established and both parents get their name on the child’s birth certificate. Keep in mind, whether married or not, establishing your legitimacy by any means gives the child the ability to receive inheritance or social security benefits via the father. It also means that you share in the financial responsibility for the child.
If two parents are unwed, and the father denies or is just not sure that the child is his, the court can order genetic (DNA) testing to prove the parentage of the child. Testing may be done by a private facility (upfront payment) or a facility offered by DCSS. If you are found to be the father, you will be responsible for reimbursing DCSS for the cost of the testing.
If you are unwed, the easiest way to establish your fatherhood is to sign (while still at the hospital) a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form. You can also sign this form at any Vital Records Office in Georgia at any time, and up until one year after the birth of the child. A notary public will validate the form.
This form legally establishes that both mother and father are now responsible for the care of the child. The birth certificate will be updated to reflect both the mother and father. Because of that, if you are not absolutely sure that you are the biological father, do not sign the form.
By signing the PA form, the father is accepting responsibility to help ensure the child is financially supported and provided healthcare until age 18. The father is also entitled to be notified in case of an adoption proceeding or a case where parental rights might be terminated in favor of a legal father who is not the biological one.
When signing a PA form, you have 60 days to cancel the form.
It is very important to understand that this PA form puts your name on the birth certificate. Failure to sign means that only the mother and child have their names on the official certificate.
Paternity seems like one of those things that you can do on your own. After all, it’s just signing some forms, right? But, because it’s the first step in a long process of attaining father’s rights, and because establishing fatherhood immediately makes you responsible for financial support of the child, it’s vital that you get solid counsel throughout the process.
Family Matters Law Group is one of the premier law firms in the Atlanta area working for father’s rights. It’s easier to guide the process from the beginning rather than trying to clean up a mess afterward. Setting up a consultation is as easy as filling out our online contact form. If you are in the Atlanta metro area, especially in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties, we’d love to hear your story and help you out.