When an unmarried woman has a child in Georgia, she automatically has sole custody. The father must take steps to establish legal paternity so he can share custody and participate in parenting the child.
Review the two possible routes for establishing paternity to protect your rights as a father in Georgia.
Voluntarily acknowledging paternity
If you are sure you are the child’s father, consider signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form. You can obtain this document in the hospital after the child’s birth or at the Vital Records Office in the county where your child lives.
Both parents must sign this form in front of a witness, who also signs and dates the form. A minor who is a parent can sign this legal document without parental consent. After signing the voluntary paternity acknowledgment, either person can change his or her mind within 60 days. After that deadline, the state requires a hearing to change paternity.
Seeking a court order
If you do not know whether you are the child’s biological father or if the child’s mother will not sign the form to acknowledge paternity, you can ask the court to order a DNA test. If it shows that you are the child’s father, Georgia will establish a legal paternity order.
You will be responsible to share financial support for the child with the mother. You can also receive court-ordered visitation or partial custody. Your name will appear on your child’s birth certificate and he or she can receive benefits from you, such as veterans’ benefits or Social Security payments.