Establishing paternity can be important for many different reasons. Whether you are seeking child support as a mother or fighting to protect your parental rights as a father, it’s important to have an experienced Douglasville paternity lawyer on your side.
Since 2017, our lawyers at Bardley McKnight Law, LLC have dedicated our practice to helping families resolve complex and sensitive family issues in Douglasville, GA. We have the tools to help your family find answers.
Paternity issues can be extremely complicated. That said, the legitimization process can be beneficial to your entire family. It’s never too early to consult a lawyer about the issues you’re facing, so contact our law offices in Douglasville, Georgia at (470) 308-5409 to get started today.
How Can Bardley McKnight Law Help Resolve My Paternity Issues in Douglasville, GA?
Paternity can be a delicate subject. For the mother, it can be difficult to believe that the child’s father would claim they were not the child’s parent. For a father, it can be devastating when their child custody and visitation rights are challenged.
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s important to have an experienced Douglasville family law attorney by your side.
When you hire Bardley McKnight Law to protect your legal rights, you can expect a lawyer who will:
- Help you understand all of your legal options
- Protect you when paternity issues arise during the divorce process
- Assist you throughout the genetic testing process to determine paternity
- Handle the complex issues that can arise in de-establishing paternity
- Handle any child support and child custody issues that arise in your paternity case
- Represent you in all court proceedings
Our Douglasville family lawyers are here to help with all of the difficult legal issues that can arise throughout the paternity determination process. Call our law firm today to learn more about how our team can fight to protect your family.
How Is Paternity Established in the State of Georgia?
Paternity can be established in three primary ways under Georgia law:
- By a voluntary paternity acknowledgment signed by the parents
- By court order, including a divorce or separation agreement
- If the parents are legally married to each other at the time the child is born
In Georgia, a father can sign an acknowledgment of paternity. Signing a voluntary paternity acknowledgment establishes that the man is the child’s biological father. However, it does not give the father any legal rights (such as child custody or visitation rights) if the man is not married to the child’s mother.
Establishing Paternity Via a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity in Georgia
The voluntary paternity acknowledgment can be signed at:
- The hospital when the child is born, or
- The Vital Records Office in Atlanta or the county where the child was born
By signing, the father agrees to provide financial support for the child. However, the father also has 60 days to rescind the paternity acknowledgment. After 60 days have passed since the date the form is signed, the acknowledgment of paternity can only be rescinded by court order.
The father can challenge the acknowledgment because of:
- Fraud, material mistakes, or duress
- DNA evidence
- Evidence of the father’s infertility
Cases involving paternity can be extremely sensitive. Before taking any legal action, it’s always a good idea to consult an experienced attorney.
At Bardley McKnight Law, our Douglasville paternity attorneys have years of experience handling child custody cases similar to yours. We know the law, and we’ll do everything we can to protect your best interests.
Establishing Paternity Via Court Order
When courts become involved in establishing paternity, it’s often because the mother wants to pursue child support from the father. Courts can evaluate the evidence and order DNA testing if called for. Then, the judge can order the father to pay child support if the DNA testing proves paternity.
Under Georgia law, genetic paternity testing is mandatory in all child support cases where paternity has not already been established. The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) conducts this type of DNA testing through Superior Court or Administrative Court.
How Do I Establish My Legal Rights as a Father Under Georgia Law?
Establishing paternity can allow a mother to receive child support from the child’s biological father. It can also allow the child to receive Social Security and other benefits based on the relationship as the biological father.
While establishing paternity alone is not enough to give the father custody or visitation rights, it is often the first step toward giving the father these rights. To establish parental rights, the biological father must legitimate the child.
To legitimate the child, the biological father must file a petition with the courts. Georgia courts have the authority to legitimate the child and give the father the same parental rights that he would have if he were married to the child’s mother.
Can a Mother Contest a Father’s Right To Legitimate a Child?
Yes. Legitimation is a fairly simple process if the mother consents to it. However, the mother is entitled to challenge the father’s petition to legitimate the child. If the mother challenges the petition, the court will determine whether granting legitimization is in the child’s best interests.
Factors that can impact that determination include:
- Any evidence of either parent’s abusive behavior
- The father’s prior contact with the child
- The child’s age and relationships with other family members
- Any history of drug or alcohol abuse by either parent
- Any history of domestic violence
Family court judges in Georgia are permitted to consider any relevant factors when determining whether granting a father parental rights is in the best interests of the child.
Typically, Georgia courts find that it is in the child’s best interests to have a relationship with both of the child’s parents. However, there are some situations where the court may deny a biological father’s request for a relationship. Those situations tend to arise when there is some reason that the father may be an unfit parent.
It’s important to have an experienced attorney by your side throughout this entire process–especially in situations where a petition to legitimate a child is contested. At Bardley McKnight Law, we have years of experience protecting families like yours. To learn more about this practice area and get the legal advice you deserve, call for a case evaluation today.
What Happens if You Discover You Are Not a Child’s Biological Father?
Learning that you are not your child’s father can be extremely difficult. However, that discovery does not automatically mean that your rights and obligations as a parent will be extinguished.
Of course, there are situations where a father who has established paternity may wish to de-establish paternity after learning they are not the child’s father. The process of de-establishing paternity can be extremely complicated.
In the end, the situation will depend on whether you were married to the child’s mother when the child was born.
What Happens if I Was Not Married to the Child’s Mother at Birth and I Signed a Paternity Acknowledgement?
If you were not married to the child’s mother at birth, but signed a voluntary paternity acknowledgment, you have 60 days to rescind that agreement.
After 60 days, you must petition the court to have the agreement voided. Under Georgia law, that petition for rescission can be based on fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.
It’s always possible that the court could order a person to continue providing financial support even if DNA evidence establishes that you are not the child’s biological father under Georgia law. The results depend on the unique facts of the situation and what is in the child’s best interests.
What Happens if I Was Not Married to the Child’s Mother at Birth and I Did Not Sign a Paternity Acknowledgement?
If you did not sign a voluntary paternity agreement, the mother may still petition to establish paternity in court. In these cases, you can respond by requesting DNA testing and stating that you are not the father.
What Happens if I Was Married to the Child’s Mother at Birth?
If you were married to the child’s mother when the child was born, the child is deemed legitimate under Georgia state law. That can make challenging paternity more complicated.
The results tend to depend on the presumed father’s history with the child. For example, if the presumed father has been actively involved in the child’s life and provided financial support for a long period of time, the court is less likely to allow them to de-establish paternity through court action.
Contact a Douglasville Paternity Lawyer To Schedule a Consultation Today
Actions involving paternity can be extremely complicated. While these cases present unique challenges, establishing paternity can be critical both to a mother who seeks to establish the father’s child support obligations. It can also be key to the father obtaining legal rights with respect to the child.
At Bardley McKnight Law, we handle all types of family law matters, including divorce, child custody, and paternity issues. Contact our team today to set up a time to meet with a Douglasville paternity lawyer.