Atlanta Paternity Lawyer
Parents have a financial responsibility to support their children, regardless of whether they are married, divorced, or were never married at all. A father may also have rights to custody, visitation, and participating in decisions about his child, even if he was never married to the child’s mother and is not primarily involved in raising the child. The mother, of course, may have a thing or two to say about this. Paternity cases can raise thorny issues, particularly when a father’s rights or responsibilities are being challenged or invoked. Buckhead Family Law provides knowledgeable and effective representation in paternity matters in Atlanta and throughout Fulton, DeKalb and surrounding counties. Learn more about paternity below, or call our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced Atlanta paternity lawyer.
Georgia laws on parentage
Georgia parentage law distinguishes between paternity and legitimation. Paternity is the process for legally establishing who is a child’s biological father. Legitimation, on the other hand, establishes the legal relationship between father and child. These are important distinctions with significant impacts. Paternity creates a child support obligation for the father, while legitimation may establish parental rights to participate in child custody and visitation.
Georgia process for establishing paternity
For a couple who are married when the child is born, the husband is legally considered to be the child’s biological father. If the couple are not married at the time, the father can acknowledge paternity by signing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form at the hospital. A notarized form can also later be filed with the State Office of Vital Records in Atlanta or the county Vital Records Office.
Absent a voluntary acknowledgement by the father, paternity can be established in a court action brought by the mother, the putative father, a relative caring for the child, the child him or herself, or DHS/DCSS. Also, paternity can be established by court order in a divorce or separation proceeding. Buckhead Family Law provides effective representation for parties who are seeking or challenging paternity in any of the above proceedings. Our lead attorney Melissa Strickland has ten years of experience handling family law cases in Atlanta, on top of several years of courtroom experience in complex civil litigation matters. Count on Buckhead Family Law to deliver strong, effective advocacy in an Atlanta paternity proceeding.
Process for legitimation in Georgia
The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form mentioned above includes legitimation at the bottom of the form. A father can sign only the top and not recognize legitimacy while acknowledging paternity, or sign at the bottom and accomplish both paternity and legitimation at the same time.
Also, any time before the child turns one year old, the putative father can bring an action for legitimation in juvenile or superior court. The mother can contest the action, claiming that the father lost his opportunity to develop a relationship with the child and should not be legitimated. In a contested legitimation proceeding, having strong and effective advocacy from a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney can be crucial to the outcome of your case.
In addition to matters such as child custody and support, establishing paternity can have many other benefits to a child. These include knowing your family medical history, knowing where you came from, and having rights to inheritance or government benefits through your father. Establishing parentage and legitimacy are also ways to show you care about your child and take steps toward having a lasting and meaningful relationship.
Experienced Family Lawyer for Atlanta Paternity Proceedings
At Buckhead Family Law, we encourage and facilitate paternity and legitimation, but we also understand there may be times when they are not appropriate. To discuss a paternity matter as a mother or father, call Buckhead Family Law at 404-600-1403, or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a caring and dedicated Atlanta paternity lawyer.