It is not unusual these days for a child in Georgia to be born to unmarried parents. Whether the parents are in a relationship with each other or not at the time of the child’s birth, if they are unmarried paternity of the child will have to be established for the man to be considered the child’s legal father. One way to do this is by signing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment, also referred to as a PA form.

A PA form is made available and can be signed at the hospital where the child is born. If a PA form is not signed at the hospital when the child is born, it may be signed elsewhere and submitted to the State Office of Vital Records. Both parents must sign the form in the presence of a notary public for the PA form to be valid. Once a PA form is completed and submitted, each parent’s name will be placed on the child’s birth certificate and the man will be presumed to be the child’s legal father. Parents should note that if the PA form is not signed at the hospital, until it is legally executed, only the mother’s name will be placed on the child’s birth certificate.

Establishing paternity is important for many reasons. It provides the custodial parent with the right to pursue child support and it provides the noncustodial parent with the right to pursue parenting time with the child. If the father does not have custody of the child, establishing paternity also gives the father the right to be notified of any adoption proceedings. Establishing paternity also allows the child to receive Social Security from the father and collect insurance or an inheritance from the father’s estate.

There are many circumstances in which a child will be born to unwed parents. A PA form is only one way to establish paternity; there are others not included in this post. Because this post only provides an overview of this topic and is not legal advice, parents with questions about establishing paternity may want to ensure they seek the help necessary to understand their legal options and rights.