Paternity Disputes & Legitimization Attorney
in Lithonia, Georgia

According to a study published by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB), of the probable fathers who have a reason to take a paternity test, nearly 30% may not be the biological father of the child they believe to be theirs. Paternity fraud, paternity discrepancy, and dispute issues are quite common in the United States. To share parenting responsibility or gain legal rights to your child, establishing paternity is essential.

If you're trying to establish paternity or if you are involved in a paternity dispute, consulting with a knowledgeable family law attorney is crucial for proper guidance. Attorney Banks-Ware can offer you the comprehensive legal counsel and advocacy you need. As your attorney, she will fight compassionately for your best interest and your family's well-being. E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC proudly serves clients throughout Lithonia, Decatur, Conyers, Covington, and McDonough, Georgia.

Why Paternity is Important

Paternity can be described as the legal process to establish a child's father. Establishing paternity helps determine the child's biological father and the rights and obligations of the father to the child. Here are some reasons why establishing paternity is important:

To the Child

  • Establish a relationship with both parents
  • Learn about the history of the family
  • Receive shelter and financial aid from the father
  • Gain access to medical insurance and other benefits
  • Have access to personal information such as medical history and healthy risks
  • Gain rights to inherit the father's estate
  • Be able to sue for father's death or harm to the father

To the Mother

  • Share parental responsibilities with the father
  • Share custody with the father
  • Share the costs of raising the child with the father
  • Seek child support payments from the father
  • Allow for parenting time

To the Father

  • Form a bond or cordial relationship with the child
  • Establish legal rights to their child
  • Participate in their child's life
  • Able to request custody or parenting time
  • Show how much they care for their child

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Difference between Paternity and Legitimization in Georgia

Paternity involves establishing the identity of the child's biological father, while legitimization involves establishing a legal relationship between father and child. In Georgia, paternity doesn't give an unmarried father-child custody or visitation rights.

Conversely, an unmarried father may seek custody or visitation rights through legitimization. The father may receive legitimization when or after establishing paternity. However, only the child's biological father may file a legitimization action.

Establishing Paternity

In Georgia, paternity can be established either "voluntarily" or "involuntarily."

Voluntary Paternity (After Birth)

Paternity may be voluntarily established after the child’s birth when both parents agree that the father is the child’s biological father. Both parents must sign the voluntary "Acknowledgment of Paternity" form. Thus, acknowledging that the parents agree that the biological father is also the child's legal father. Once signed, the form is filed with the Putative Father Registry of the Department of Public Health in Georgia.

Involuntary Paternity (Legal Means)

Paternity may also be established involuntarily when the mother, the child, the alleged father, or state official files a paternity action with the court. This will prompt the court to involuntarily determine that the alleged father is the child's legal and biological father. In such disputed cases, DNA testing may be required to confirm paternity.

Petition for Legitimization of Child

Pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, Section 19-7-22, an unmarried biological father may file a petition to legitimize his relationship with the child. Georgia court may declare the relationship as legitimate if the court considers it to be in the best interest of the child. A legitimization petition must include details such as:

  • The name, age, and sex of the child
  • The name of the child's mother
  • Any name change desired by the petitioner for the child

Obtaining Guidance

Paternity discrepancy and dispute cases in Georgia can be really complex. Identifying that the child you are raising as your biological progeny was actually sired by another person can be quite painful. If you are involved in a paternity dispute or trying to establish paternity, consulting with a knowledgeable Georgia family law attorney is crucial for comprehensive guidance.

Attorney Banks-Ware is dedicated to offering comprehensive legal services and strong representation in matters of divorce, paternity, and child custody. As your legal counsel, she can advise and guide you through the decision-making process of establishing paternity. Whether you are a father who wants custody rights or a mother who wants to implement support and a parenting plan, Noreen Banks-Ware will work diligently with all parties involved to negotiate a fair parenting agreement.

Paternity Dispute Attorney Serving Lithonia, Georgia

Call E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC today to schedule a one-on-one case assessment with an experienced Georgia paternity dispute attorney. Attorney Banks-Ware can protect you and your family’s rights, and offer you the detailed guidance and advocacy you need to establish or dispute paternity. She is proud to serve clients across Lithonia, Decatur, Conyers, Covington, and McDonough, Georgia.