For couples who are married when a child is born, paternity is established automatically.
Why Establish Paternity and Legitimation? How Do I Do it?
When a child is born out of wedlock, establishing paternity will be necessary as the biological mother is the only person who has rights to the child. This, in turn, allows for the mother to pursue child support payments from the man deemed to be the father of the child. This can be done via voluntary acknowledgment by signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form/paternity affidavit at the hospital or State Office of Vital Records or through a paternity action filed with a Court. When establishing paternity, in most cases, genetic testing will be performed.
In Georgia, when a child is born out of wedlock, a father (unmarried to the mother) who wishes to have full rights as a father, will also need to pursue legitimation, obtained through a legitimation action. This allows him to exercise his legal rights regarding custody, visitation, and free access to the child’s medical and educational information, as well as to participate in the decision-making process regarding the child. The legitimation process also establishes the rights of inheritance and social security benefits.
Failing to Acknowledge Paternity and Time Limits
If both parents do not sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form, only the mother’s and child’s names will appear on the birth certificate. The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form may also be cancelled within 60 days after being signed. After that, a court order will be necessary to have the father’s name removed from the birth certificate. There is no known time limitation on a father’s right to pursue legitimation.