If you believe you have fathered a child in Georgia, but you or the child’s mother are not completely sure the child is biologically yours, you may want to establish paternity to ensure you have certain legal rights to the child. Conversely, if paternity is yet to be established, you may find yourself forced to submit to testing if you are involved in a child support case.
Establishing paternity through the court system
If you are required to undergo mandatory paternity testing because of your involvement in a child support case, Georgia’s Division of Child Support Services is the governing body that will administer the test. An administrative court or a local superior court handles administering the test, depending on where you reside.
The person responsible for reimbursing DCSS for paternity testing fees will ultimately depend on the outcome o f the test itself. If you are, in fact, the father, you will be responsible for paying back the testing fees. If, however, you are not the father, the mother who sought child support from you in the first place must foot the bill. There are a few exceptions, however. For example, some state residents who receive certain types of government assistance are exempt from having to reimburse the testing fee.
Establishing paternity via other means
If you are not forced to undergo paternity testing by the court, but wish to do so anyway, there are several methods you may use.
If you are married to the child’s mother at the time of the birth, you are already presumed to be the father. If you are not married to the child’s mother, you could fill out a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form at the birth hospital or through a state vital records office. This form also includes an area entitled “Acknowledgement of Legitimation.” Signing this section is critical if you want your child to be able to inherit assets from your estate, or collect insurance and related benefits somewhere down the line.
However, keep in mind that establishing paternity and legitimizing are not the same thing – you can establish paternity, but unless you also have legal rights, you will have trouble gaining visitation or custody of your child.
There are numerous reasons you may want or need to undergo paternity testing. For more about how the process works in Georgia — or to discuss your specific case — consider getting in contact with an attorney.