Child support has long been a controversial topic for many people. Over the past decade, child support guidelines have changed in Georgia in an effort to make it more fair for both parents, however, there are still issues that arise, especially when paternity is in question. If you are a parent dealing with these issues, an experienced family law attorney can help you understand your rights.
Factors Determining Paternity
Whether a paternity test will be required during a child support case depends on one large factor – whether the child was born in or out of wedlock. Why is this an issue? In Georgia, the state wants to be certain that the person they are pursuing for child support is actually the legal, responsible party. In most cases, a married husband will be considered the father of his wife’s child, as indicated on the child’s birth certificate. However, if the couple is not married, it can be much more complicated, particularly if neither party involved has taken the steps to legally identify the father of the child.
When Paternity is Required
When an unmarried couple has a child in Georgia and neither party has yet to establish paternity, a test may be required. The results of the test will be used to legally identify the man as the father of the child when establishing child support and enforcement issues that go along with it. Currently, the mother, father, and child will pay for the paternity test. However, there are certain situations in which other parties and payment issues may be involved. Your attorney can help you understand those situations.
Alternatives to Paternity Testing
In the state of Georgia there are alternative options to determine paternity. These do not all include going through a physical paternity test. The most common method that many unmarried couples use to establish paternity is by the sighing of a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form. By signing this form, a man legally acknowledges that he is the father of the child. The mother of the child is also required to sign the form. This form is usually agreed upon and signed at the hospital at the time the child is born, however, it can be signed at the Office of Vital Records. A court order declaring paternity can also be used in place of paternity testing.
Why Establish Paternity
Of course, you are required to establish paternity in order to obtain child support orders. What other reasons are there to establish paternity? In Georgia, children are only allowed to inherit from their biological mother unless paternity has been established. This also works the other way around. A father cannot inherit from a child unless paternity has been proven. In addition, for a father’s name to be placed on a birth certificate of the child, paternity must be established. Another reason for establishing paternity is so that a child can receive social security benefits in the event that the father dies.
Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today
If you have questions about paternity in Georgia, the attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law can help. We know how important establishing paternity can be. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.