Voluntary vs. Involuntary Paternity in Georgia
In Georgia, paternity for a child may be established in a number of ways, including by two unwed parents signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form within one year of the child’s birth. In addition, a father’s paternity can also be made “involuntarily” by a court order in a paternity action.
Legal Significance of Paternity
While paternity identifies a man as the biological father of the child, it does not automatically assign the father legal rights with respect to the child. When a child is born out of wedlock, Georgia paternity law requires legitimation in order for a father to gain legal rights over the child.
In general, pursuing legitimation allows for:
- A child’s father (who is unmarried to the mother) to have full rights as a father, including requesting custody and/or visitation;
- The child to inherit from the unmarried father.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
The state Paternity Acknowledgement Form is a document used to add a biological father to a child’s birth record. It cannot be used if the child’s mother was married to anyone within 10 months prior to the child’s birth or if there is another father listed on the child’s birth certificate. In those circumstances, court action is necessary to establish paternity and subsequently amend the birth record. This form can be filed at the hospital when the child is born or filed later with the State Office of Vital Records.
In Georgia, there is no clear time limitation established by law to determine paternity.