Paternity Law

Paternity Law Attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia

The process of legally identifying a child’s biological father is known as paternity. When the mother and the father of the child are not married, establishing paternity can act as a petition for the father’s obligation of support. Georgia law allows either parent to file a petition to establish paternity. Determining the paternity of a child is necessary before child support, custody and visitation can be ordered.

The trusted paternity law attorneys at A.B. Olmos & Associates, P.C. can help you establish paternity, protect your family’s rights, and proceed with your case.

How to Proceed with a Paternity Case

A petition for paternity may be brought by the child, the child’s mother, any relative whose care the child has been placed, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the alleged biological father. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-43

Paternity can be established with evidence provided through testimony, DNA testing, or official legal declaration. As a legal declaration of paternity, an unwed mother and father may sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form in the presence of a notary at the hospital when the child is born or after the birth.

When a paternity action is filed and the other party has been served the petition, the alleged father has 30 days to respond to the petition. If this answer is not filed within this time frame, O.C.G.A. § 19-7-47(b) states the “case shall automatically become in default unless the time for filing the answer has been extended as provided by law.” Once this happens, the court could grant the individual a verdict and judgment by default, but it may be reopened upon filing the appropriate pleading and paying the costs within 15 days of the default. Otherwise, the plaintiff will be entitled to the judgement.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

Establishing a child’s paternity is important when seeking child support before the court. Once paternity is established, the biological father will have financial responsibility to the child. For the mother and child, establishing paternity likely means financial assistance until the child reaches the age of majority at 18.

Paternity also allows the child to gain insight into the health details and history of their paternal line. Georgia law states that merely establishing paternity does not allow the father or child to inherit from one another—inheritance and establishing a legal relationship would instead be determined through a legitimation action. Paternity does not inherently grant parental rights, but it is the first step toward legitimation.

In Georgia law, these two levels of recognition between a child and father can build the foundation for future cases in visitation and custody rights because once established, the parent can potentially:

Seek child support

Petition for visitation

Amend the birth certificate

Take action for custody

Object to adoption

Exercise parental rights

How Paternity is Established

The Department of Human Services verifies that paternity can be established by the following ways in Georgia:
  1. the child’s parents are legally married to each other at the time of the child’s birth;
  2. unwed parents sign a Paternity Acknowledgment Form
    1. at the hospital when the child is born, or later at either
    2. the State Office of Vital Records in Atlanta or
    3. the Vital Records Office in the county where the child was born; NOTE: in some counties, the Paternity Acknowledgment Forms are processed at the Probate Court Office rather than the Vital Records Office.
  3. Court order, (divorce decree, separation agreement, or other judicial or administrative order).

Via the DHS Paternity Establishment for the General Public.

The Paternity Acknowledgment Form has two portions, the top portion to establish paternity can be completed at any time, but the bottom portion to legitimate a child must be completed prior to the child’s first birthday if there is to be a voluntary legitimation. Once signed, either parent can rescind the acknowledgement within 60 days, unless an order to establish paternity has already been entered. Establishment of paternity via the Paternity Acknowledgment Form does not entitle the father to custody, visitation, or rights of inheritance to or from a child. Those rights are established when the biological father files his action to legitimate the child. The Division of Child Support Services is required by law to conduct paternity testing in child support cases in which paternity has not been established.

Discuss Your Case with a Paternity Law Attorney at A.B. Olmos & Associates, P.C.

Schedule a consultation with our paternity law attorneys to receive an analysis and recommendation for your paternity case. We provide comprehensive counsel to advocate for both the mother’s and father’s parental rights. If a child’s paternity is contested, our team is available to help you understand the legal ramifications. 

A.B. Olmos & Associates, P.C. is conveniently located in the Brookhaven area of Atlanta. If you’re ready to move forward with your case, fill out this simple online contact form or call us at 678-683-8500.