Understanding Paternity Rights in Georgia Family Law Courts
Georgia’s family laws protect the rights of children and both parents. Paternity rights determine the role that a father will play in raising a child and contributing to their development and well-being.
A child’s mother is typically viewed as the primary parent who will provide the care they need. But paternity rights help fathers establish and maintain relationships with their children and fulfill an important role for the family.
Protecting the Rights of Fathers
Fathers have historically been the primary wage earner in families while mothers dedicated their time and energy to raising children.
This is why most family law cases favor mothers when decided on issues such as physical and legal custody, visitation, financial support, and other factors that impact the well-being of children.
But fathers make a significant impact on a child’s life. Involved fathers who provide the emotional support children need help contribute to their social development, education, and other areas of life.
Fathers must establish paternity if they want to protect their rights. If paternity isn’t established, the mother has full custody and legal rights to the child. This removes the rights of the father until he takes the steps needed to establish paternity.
Defining the Rights of Fathers in Georgia Family Law Courts
Serving the best interests of children is the primary goal of family law courts in Georgia. This is especially true when making decisions related to child custody.
Court judges review the circumstances of every case to determine what custodial rights will be granted to each parent. The home environment, health, criminal history, and emotional ties related to each parent determine what rights they can maintain.
Based on these factors, the child’s father may be granted rights that allow him to have legal and physical custody. If joint custody isn’t awarded by the courts, the father may seek to gain primary custody.
Under Georgia law, a father who is given primary custody of a child may be entitled to receive child support from the mother. This provides the financial resources needed to cover costs related to the child’s clothing, food, medical services, and other needs.
Claiming Paternal Rights in Georgia Family Law Courts
There are steps unmarried fathers can take to be named as the legal father of a child. This allows fathers to have legal rights to custody and visitation. It also allows parents to make sure the child has all the financial support needed for ongoing development.
Failing to establish paternity can keep fathers from having the relationship needed to participate in the child’s upbringing.
The paternity process allows fathers to be listed on the child’s birth certificate. Children are able to secure health and social security benefits when there is a legal father present.
In order to establish paternity in Georgia, both parents may sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity. This is a legal agreement in which both parents state that an individual is the father of the child.
The Acknowledgement of Paternity can be signed at the time of the child’s birth or at the State Office of Vital Records. Each county also has a Vital Records Office where parents may also submit the agreement.
Fathers may also establish paternity by submitting a paternity action with the family law courts. If it’s unclear whether he is the child’s father, he may choose to complete a genetic test through the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS).
Understanding paternity rights helps fathers establish meaningful relationships with their children. Consulting with a family law attorney in Georgia is the first step in claiming their rights to play a role in a child’s welfare.
The right legal professional can help fathers understand Georgia paternity laws so they protect their family’s well-being and provide the support children need for the future.