The Ward Law Firm can help you resolve issues related to legitimation and establishing paternity in Georgia. If a child is born out of wedlock, voluntary acknowledgment or DNA testing to establish paternity may not necessarily grant a biological father any legal rights, visitation, or custody.
To exercise these rights, the parents must legitimate the child. Legitimation also provides the child with certain rights, such as the right to inherit from the father or obtain medical history on the father’s side of the family.
Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment and Legitimation in Georgia
Traditionally, parents establish paternity in Georgia if they are married when the child is born. Or unwed parents may sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form (VPA) at the hospital after the birth or at the Georgia Office of Vital Records in Atlanta. They may also present a notarized VPA form to the Vital Records Office in the county where the child was born.
Parents in Georgia can establish legitimization of the child on the same form they use to voluntarily acknowledge paternity – the VPA. Previously, paternity and legitimization were different steps. After establishing paternity, the father would have to obtain a court order in order to legitimate the child and exercise rights to custody and visitation.
Legitimation and Establishing Paternity in a Georgia Court
If the parents did not establish paternity and legitimation voluntarily, they may file an action in Superior Court. The mother, father, child, or any relative taking care of the child may file the paternity action. Remember, this only establishes paternity, not legitimation.
The Office of State Administrative Hearings may also establish paternity in some cases, such as in child support cases when paternity is not already established.
A DNA test may be necessary during the paternity process. Parents may use the test to prove or disprove paternity. Anybody involved in this process may request the test, though, the person who requests it is responsible for the costs associated with it.
Only the father may file a judicial petition seeking legitimation. A mother may oppose the legitimation petition by claiming the petitioner is not actually the biological father or that the father has missed his opportunity to develop his relationship with his child.
Lawrenceville Family Law Attorney David J. Ward Helps Establish Paternity or Legitimation
Paternity and legitimation in Georgia require following specific legal steps and filling out the right forms. A misstep could delay the process or hurt your chances at a successful outcome. Work with an attorney to make sure you follow the correct procedures, handle any challenges that arise, and accomplish the family law goals you set out to accomplish, whether that be to enforce child support, exercise child custody and visitation rights, etc.
At the Ward Law Firm, we treat each paternity and legitimation case with the individualized attention and care it deserves. Call us at 770-383-1973 for more information or fill out our online contact form to schedule a REAL Case Analysis with family law attorney in Lawrenceville, David J. Ward.