How to establish paternity as an unmarried father in Georgia

Having a child is one of the most incredible experiences you can have. For most people, a child is a source of joy and motivation in early and middle life, as well as a source of support and care in the later stages of life. Becoming a father can transform you and make you a better person. However, if you aren't married to the mother of your child, things can quickly become complicated.

There are many reasons why unmarried fathers struggle to establish paternity. Perhaps the mother of your child is already married to someone else, so the hospital assumed the husband was the father. Maybe you split with the mother early on, and she has since denied you access to her and the child after its birth. Whatever the reason for your difficulty, you can take steps to establish yourself as the father of the child.

Working with the mother is the simplest way to establish paternity

If your child is as of yet unborn but you aren't in contact with the mother, now may be an ideal time to reach out. Even if you don't want to re-establish a romantic relationship, you can still help support the mother of your child emotionally and financially during pregnancy. That is a great way to prove yourself to her as a responsible soon-to-be father.

Ideally, she will see your efforts and understand that your child deserves to have the love and support of both parents. That could lead to her agreeing to sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form at the hospital after birth. In that scenario, your name will likely wind up on the birth certificate. Even if your child is already born and you didn't sign a form, it isn't too late. If the mother agrees to acknowledge you as the father, you can both travel to the State Office of Vital Records in the county of birth for your child.

You may need to ask the courts for help

In some situations, such as a contentious break-up or a married mother, cooperation may simply not be possible. If the mother of the child refuses to acknowledge your paternity, you can ask the courts to step in on your behalf. The courts have an interest in determining paternity, because that removes a potential financial burden for the state.

The courts can compel the mother to appear in court and can order genetic testing to establish you as the father of the child. If the genetic test is a match, the result will likely be a shared allocation of parental rights and responsibilities. That will include child support, as well as the right to shared custody or visitation with your child. Establishing paternity is an important step for unmarried fathers who want to be a part of their children's lives.

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