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Atlanta Divorce Lawyer > Marietta Paternity Lawyer

When a mother gives birth to a child, she automatically becomes the child’s custodian. But things are different when it comes to fathers. A man who is married to the mother is presumed to be the father, but an unmarried man must establish his paternity.

At Buckhead Family Law, we have represented men and women in paternity proceedings. Most typically, paternity disputes arise in one of two contexts: either a man seeks paternity to obtain custody of a child or else a mother seeks to establish paternity so that the man pays child support. If you are involved in a paternity dispute, please contact our Marietta paternity lawyer to learn more.

In Georgia, our laws distinguish between paternity and legitimation. Paternity establishes that a man is the child’s biological father, which means he must financially support his child. Legitimation, by contrast, is the process of establishing a parent-child legal relationship and is a prelude to obtaining custody rights.

A man must establish paternity when he is not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth. There are a couple ways to do this.

First, a man can sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form while at the hospital. He can also file a notarized form with the Vital Records office in the county.

Second, a person can start a court proceeding to establish paternity. This suit might be started by the man, the mother, the child, or the state. Typically, the state starts these proceedings in the hopes of getting the man to pay child support.

Generally, the court will order a DNA test to conclusively prove if the man is the father. After receiving the results, the court will enter an order and move on to consideration of child support obligations if the test comes back positive. Our lawyers realize how invasive a DNA test can be, and we will vigorously protect your rights if you are ordered to submit to a test.

There are also a couple ways to establish legitimation. The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form contains a section on the bottom regarding legitimation. A man who wants to acknowledge paternity and recognize legitimacy can do so using the same form by signing in both spots. Sometimes, however, a man only wants to acknowledge paternity without legitimizing the relationship.

A man can also file an action for legitimation in court before the child turns a year old. Men take this step when they want visitation or custody of the child. A mother might fight the action for a variety of reasons. Anyone seeking to establish legitimacy or trying to fight it off should have a lawyer in their corner. Generally, judges prefer that both parents are involved in the child’s life. But depending on the child’s age, and whether the mother is married, a judge might hesitate.

Establishing paternity or legitimation is not easy, and both men and women benefit from having legal counsel. For assistance, contact Buckhead Family Law today to speak with one of our attorneys.

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