If paternity is not clearly established, the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) has to conduct paternity testing before moving forward with custody or child support cases. As of 2015, this step is legally required. So that you know what to expect in this type of situation, here’s a look at establishing paternity in Georgia.
The most straightforward way to establish if a man is the biological father of a child is to use genetic testing. Paternity tests in Georgia cost $22 each, and the total cost is $66. That’s $22 each for the father, mother, and child.
If the paternity test is positive, the father has to reimburse the state for those costs. If a mother requests a paternity test and the man is not judged to be the biological father, the mother has to cover the cost of the test. The cost is waived if the mother is on TANF or receiving family Medicaid. If the grandparents or a third-party custodian are establishing paternity in Georgia and the man is not the biological father, these guardians don’t have to reimburse the state for the test.
Establishing Paternity in Georgia
Beyond genetic testing, there are a few other options for establishing paternity in Georgia. If the following are true, it indicates paternity:
- The parents were legally married at the time of the child’s birth
- Unwed parents signed a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form at the hospital when the child was born or at the State Office of Vital Records
- There is a court order that mentions paternity
After signing a paternity acknowledgement form, both parents have 60 days to cancel the acknowledgement. If not canceled within that window, the paternity stands.
Responsibilities After Paternity Is Established
Establishing paternity in Georgia is important because paternity infers a number of obligations. As the established father of a child, a man has the responsibility to provide child support and medical insurance until the child is 18 years old and sometimes, the father must meet these obligations after those ages. At the same time, the child has the right to establish an emotional bond with both parents and to receive social security benefits from the father if relevant.
To explain, imagine you had a child, you were not married, and the father of the child didn’t sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form. If the father isn’t helping you raise the child and you want support, you need to go through the steps of establishing paternity in Georgia. Once you have established paternity, the father has to provide support as dictated by the courts.
To give you another example, say you are a man who has recently found out that an ex-partner had a child. You want to be part of that child’s life. To make that possible, you request a paternity test. If you are the father of the child, you have a right to a relationship so you find a child custody lawyer to help you get time with your child.
Establishing paternity in Georgia can be important for a number of reasons. If you have questions about establishing paternity or if you need help with child support or custody issues, contact us today. At Daniele Johnson and Associates, we are committed to helping you protect what’s most important to you.