Establishing legal paternity provides fathers with certain rights and responsibilities regarding their children. It also gives children advantages like the ability to receive future inheritance and Social Security benefits.
Georgia has several pathways for fathers to seek legal paternity.
Submit a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form
If both parents agree about the father’s identity, you can both sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form. It is available at the hospital when the child is born, or you can get a copy from the Department of Public Health after the birth. When you file the signed form with the DPH Vital Records Office, you become the child’s legal father.
File a legal petition
If the other parent will not sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form, you can file a petition for paternity in the county where the child lives. The court will schedule a hearing where both you and the child’s mother can present evidence. The judge may also order a genetic test to conclusively determine paternity.
Undergo paternity testing
In cases with uncertainty or disagreement about the child’s biological father, you can request a paternity test. In child support cases, the court may order genetic testing to determine paternity. If the test confirms you are the biological father, you can get a court order for legal paternity.
Acknowledge paternity through marriage
If you are the biological father and marry the child’s biological mother, the state automatically considers you the legal father. For this route to paternity, you must wed after the child’s birth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 46% of children born in Georgia have unmarried parents. If you have or expect a baby and remain unmarried, planning for legal paternity can benefit both you and your child.