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How To Establish Legal Parentage In Georgia


Every child deserves to have two parents to provide for them, but if their parents are unmarried, or if there is a question about parentage, this can sometimes be a struggle. Georgia has a specific practice by which a child’s paternity is determined, but it can be easy to misunderstand or become confused about what is required. Either way, it is worth going through, so that your child can reap the advantage of being connected to both their parents.

Paternity vs Legitimation

One of the most important things to keep in mind in a Georgia paternity or parentage action is that establishing a legal relationship between parent and child is not the same thing as establishing the right to visitation or parenting time. The former is establishing paternity; the latter is referred to under Georgia law as legitimation. One can exist without the other, but many people confuse one for the other, thinking that a paternity action naming them as the father automatically confers visitation rights on them when it does not.

The major difference between the two is that legitimation is usually filed by the parent seeking to be involved in the child’s life; parentage actions are most often filed by a parent seeking to compel the other parent to be involved in the child’s life (usually by paying child support, but there are other reasons). Be advised, however, that as of this writing, Georgia law does use gendered terms, which can put same-sex parents in a difficult position if the issue of parentage ever comes up.

Three Ways To Prove It

Georgia law sets forth three ways by which the parentage of a child can be legally fixed. If a child’s mother is married either during the pregnancy or afterward, her husband will be considered the father (though if this turns out not to be the case, the actual biological father can bring his own petition to establish parentage). If the mother is unmarried, the father can complete what is called a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (VAP), either at the time of the child’s birth or later at the Office of Vital Records. In most situations, completing a VAP can also serve as a legitimation.

The other way to establish parentage is with a court order, and this is the end result of someone bringing a paternity suit in court. Generally, these lawsuits will end with blood tests to determine biological lineage, with a court order stating the results. The only real result of the court order is to establish on the record that the putative father is in fact the biological father, which then creates a duty for that man to support the child.

Contact An Experienced Attorney

A child having two legal parents can have several advantages, including knowing their full medical history, the right to inherit from two parents, and the simple enjoyment of knowing and loving more than one caregiver. However, it can sometimes be complicated arriving at that point. Contacting an attorney to assist is often a good idea. The Atlanta paternity lawyers at Buckhead Family Law can help you decide how best to proceed, for the good of both you and your child. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.


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