Child support for unmarried parents in Georgia works almost the same way it does for married parents. Regardless of marital status, non-custodial parents have a responsibility to pay some of the expenses related to raising their child. This support is court-ordered, and may include costs such as health insurance and education expenses.
The amount of child support paid in these cases relies on the income of the parents and the needs of the child. Whether or not the parents ever married does not change this amount, although the process for getting the non-custodial parent to pay is somewhat different.
How Courts Determine the Amount of Child Support
Georgia courts often use a formula to calculate child support. This formula is the same no matter if the parents are married or unmarried. In this way, the courts will calculate child support orders for a child of unmarried parents the same way as orders for a child of previously married parents.
After determining the amount, the judge issues a court order requiring the non-custodial parent to pay a fixed amount each month until his or her child reaches age 18. If the child will still be in high school when he or she turns 18, the courts will often extend the order through graduation.
Is Child Support Automatic?
When parents are married when the child is born, the law assumes the husband is the father. This means that when the couple divorces, the courts will automatically assign child support payments to the non-custodial parent. When the parents are unwed, however, additional steps are necessary to establish paternity under Georgia law.
Many parents choose to do this through a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form at the hospital when the child is born, at the State Office of Vital Records, or at the county vital records office.
However, if unmarried parents break up and one refuses to complete this form, the process becomes more complicated. When this happens, the Division of Child Support Services may order the potential father to undergo paternity testing before the court can order him to pay child support.
Does Paying Child Support Give the Father Rights to Custody or Visitation?
Under Georgia law, the child’s mother has all legal custody rights when the parents are unmarried. This means that even when the father goes through all of the steps to confirm paternity and the court orders him to pay child support, he does not have any legal rights to visitation or custody.
To gain visitation rights, the father must go through an additional process by filing a legitimation action in court. Through this process, he can request custody or visitation with his child.
Can a Lawyer Help Me Secure Support for my Child?
The Ward Law Firm has the experience and resources to help you navigate the child support process in Georgia.
Contact us today at 770-383-1973 to schedule a REAL Case Analysis and to learn more about how we can help you through the process of getting child support for your child or establishing paternity and gaining visitation rights.