Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
(770) 676-1191
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Establishing paternity after a child's birth

When a married woman gives birth in Georgia, there is a legal presumption that the woman's husband is her child's father. On the other hand, a child that is born to an unmarried mother does not automatically have a father in the eyes of the law. Unmarried parents must legally establish paternity for their child so that the child can receive the legal benefits of having a father.

Establishing paternity is important for child custody, child support and inheritance. If there is no legal paternity established, a mother will not be able to pursue child support payments, and a father will not be able to pursue joint custody or visitation rights. Establishing paternity also enables the child to receive an inheritance from the father's family and health insurance coverage from the father's policy.

Paternity may be legally established at a child's birth or later on if the parents sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. Legal action may be required to establish paternity if either party does not voluntarily acknowledge it. A parent may file a paternity action, or the state may file a paternity action if the mother is on public assistance. When there is a legal action to establish paternity, the father may be required to take a DNA test.

A father must establish paternity before he can petition the court for visitation rights or joint legal or physical custody. An attorney may be able to represent a father who would like to take legal action to establish paternity. If a mother is asking a man to pay child support for a child that the man does not believe he fathered, an attorney may be able to help the man dispute the claim.

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Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
4799 Sugarloaf Pkwy
Building J
Lawrenceville, GA 30044

Phone: 770-676-1191
Fax: 770-963-2828
Lawrenceville Law Office Map

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