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.
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
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.