Lawrenceville Paternity and Legitimation Lawyer
If you are interested in establishing parental rights as a father or seeking child support as a mother, an experienced Lawrenceville paternity lawyer can help. Crystal Wright Law has helped families facing complex family law issues in Lawrenceville, GA, for nearly a decade. Contact our law office at 404-594-2143 and schedule a free consultation for your paternity case.
Paternity establishes the identity of a child’s biological father. This process, in turn, allows a mother to seek child support from the father or helps a father secure parental rights. Paternity can be a complex legal issue, but the legitimation process benefits both parents and the child.
How Crystal Wright Law Can Help You Establish Paternity and Father’s Rights in Lawrenceville, GA
Paternity is a highly sensitive issue. It can be overwhelming when the father of your child does not take legal and financial responsibility for the child. Likewise, it can be distressing when the mother of your child ignores or violates your parental rights. An experienced Lawrenceville family law lawyer can help.
Our office in Lawrenceville, Georgia, can help with many aspects of paternity and legitimation:
- Offer sound legal advice and guidance
- Assist with paternity issues during a divorce
- Prepare legitimation documents for unmarried couples
- Assist fathers in seeking legal parental rights through paternity testing and legitimation
- Help mothers establish paternity for their child
- Assist with complex issues involving disestablishment of paternity
- Gather and present evidence and a persuasive argument to establish a father’s efforts to support and know a child
- Demonstrate how establishing or disestablishing paternity is in the best interests of a child
If you face a complex and contentious paternity issue or seek legitimation, Crystal Wright Law is here to help. Contact our law office for a free case review with a Lawrenceville divorce attorney over your legal matters.
How Is Paternity Established in Lawrenceville, Georgia?
Under Georgia law, there are separate laws that govern paternity and legitimation. Once paternity is established, there is a legal acknowledgment of a child’s biological father. However, paternity does not give a father parental rights like visitation and custody if he is not married to the mother of his child.
Once his paternity has been established, a father can be held responsible for child support. Paternity can also be the first step toward legitimation.
There are several ways that paternity can be established in Georgia:
- Court order
- Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity
If the child is conceived or born when the mother is married, the husband will be presumed to be the biological father. No additional steps are necessary to legally establish paternity. However, if the husband is not the biological father, court action will be needed to eliminate the presumption.
Unmarried parents can sign a Paternity Acknowledgement at the hospital after their child’s birth or at the Office of Vital Records to establish paternity. This acknowledgment is voluntary and, by signing, the father agrees to financially support the child. The acknowledgment can be canceled within 60 days. After this time limit, the only way to cancel the acknowledgment is by challenging it in court based on fraud, material mistake of fact, or duress. The father can challenge the acknowledgment with a DNA paternity test or medical evidence of infertility if he doubts the child is his.
Finally, paternity can be established through a paternity action in court. A mother often brings this type of legal action. It allows the court to legally determine paternity, require DNA testing, and enter an order for child support.
What Is Legitimation in Lawrenceville, GA?
Paternity is separate from legitimation. Legitimation establishes the father’s legal parental rights, including visitation and custody. Paternity is generally the first step in the legitimation legal process.
If the parents were not married when the child was born, the father can voluntarily legitimate the child. Only the biological father can file a petition to legitimate. An order of legitimation recognizes a child’s biological father as the legal father, having the same rights as if the parents were married. Legitimation is the only way to establish a father’s rights in Georgia other than marrying the child’s mother before or soon after birth.
Being named on the birth certificate or taking a paternity test is not sufficient to recognize a father as the legal father of their child. These can only be used to compel a father to pay child support.
Legitimation can be a fast and easy court process if the mother consents. In this case, both parties can sign a document and submit it to the court for approval. If the mother disputes the process, there must be a more complex court process, which includes a hearing.
Custody concerns can further complicate the legitimation process. Biological fathers’ petition for legitimation will not be automatically granted. A judge will decide if legitimation is in the child’s best interest. Thankfully, judges typically believe that a child benefits from a relationship with both parents.
However, a father’s petition may not be granted if the court finds him unfit. Legitimation can be a complex issue when contested. It’s crucial to consult with an experienced Lawrenceville family law attorney. Your lawyer can help you prepare for court and argue for your legal rights as a parent.
What Happens if You Discover You Are not the Father?
It can be devastating to find out you are not the biological father of your child. Cases involving paternity are emotional. But they can also be very complex. A court will consider the child’s best interest first, not biological paternity.
You may have several options to disestablish paternity or demonstrate that you are not the biological father. Your legal options will depend on whether you were married to the child’s mother and whether you legally claimed the child.
If you were not married and did not sign a voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement, the mother can file a paternity action in court. You can respond by stating that you do not believe you are the father, and the court can order DNA paternity testing.
If you did sign the Paternity Acknowledgement, you have 60 days to rescind your acknowledgment. Under O.C.G.A. § 19-7-46.1, court action is required after this 60-day period. You can only challenge your signed paternity acknowledgment on the basis of fraud, material mistake of fact, or duress.
Challenging a signed Paternity Acknowledgement after the 60-day window should always be done with the assistance of an experienced Georgia family law attorney. If successful, you may be freed from your obligation to pay child support. However, the court will consider the best interests of the child and the circumstances. A court may order that you are responsible for financial support, even with a DNA test showing you are not the child’s biological father.
If both parents were married and the husband or former husband is the presumed father, challenging paternity becomes even more complicated. Georgia law states that children born in wedlock are deemed legitimate.
In one case in 2010, a mother challenged paternity in a divorce case stating the husband may not be the biological father of their child. The Georgia Court of Appeals upheld the denial of her motion and stated that public policy “favoring the presumption of a child’s legitimacy is one of the most firmly established and persuasive precepts known in law.”
As mentioned, Georgia allows presumed fathers to disestablish paternity through court action. But the law gives courts the discretion to refuse these motions. If the presumed father has provided long-term parental care and support for the child, the court may decide that disestablishing paternity is not in the child’s best interest.
Contact a Lawrenceville Paternity Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Paternity can be a complex matter in Georgia, but it’s crucial for establishing a child support order for mothers and legitimation for fathers. Crystal Wright Law represents mothers, fathers, and families in all types of family law and paternity issues, including divorce, child custody and visitation, property division, domestic violence, protective orders, and other legal matters.
Contact our law firm today for a free initial consultation with a Lawrenceville paternity lawyer who can help you.