If a child’s parents are married, both have equal rights to custody and visitation. However, in the case of a child born out of wedlock, only the mother has any rights to custody. This is true even if the father’s name is listed on the birth certificate of the child. Paternity establishes a man as the biological father of a child.
There are three ways paternity may be established in Georgia. The obvious way is if both parents are legally married to each other at the time of the child’s birth. Second, parents may voluntarily agree on paternity by executing a paternity acknowledgement form. Third, if the parents of a child do not execute an acknowledgement of paternity, paternity may be established by court order.
Either parent or the Georgia Department of Human Resources may bring a paternity action. Effective July 1, 2015, the Georgia Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is required by law to conduct paternity testing in all newly established child support cases in which paternity has not already been established. Depending on the county of residence, establishment of paternity by the DCSS may be processed through a local Superior Court or through an Administrative Court.
If paternity testing is found to be necessary and the ensuing test results are positive regarding the alleged father, he will be responsible for payment or reimbursement of the paternity testing expenses fronted by DCSS. If the test results are negative regarding the alleged father, the applicant/biological mother will be responsible for payment or reimbursement of the paternity testing expenses fronted by DCSS. The paternity testing fee will not be charged to mothers who are receiving TANF or Family Medicaid, grandparents raising grandchildren or relative or non-relative third-party custodians. If the mother of the child is deceased, genetic testing labs typically offer some type of parentage testing.
However, a finding of paternity only creates an obligation on behalf of both parents to provide financial support and health insurance for their child. Such a finding gives no rights to an unwed father regarding visitation or custody. In order to establish any rights to custody or visitation, a father must legitimate a child. One way to do this voluntarily is by signing the “legitimation” section on the paternity acknowledgement form.
The Parker Law Firm specializes in establishing parental rights on behalf of deserving fathers, whether by paternity or legitimation. Call 770-246-1331 or e-mail the Parker Law Firm to schedule a consultation to discuss this or any family law issue. HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the Parker Law Firm!!!