A paternity suit is a legal action that establishes the identity of the biological father, and is generally brought to establish a child support obligation, although it can be brought by a person alleged to be the father to prove that he is in fact, not the father.
The parties that can bring a paternity suit are:
- the child;
- the mother of the child;
- any relative in which whom the child has been placed;
- the Department of Human Resources on behalf of the child; and,
- a person alleged to be the father of the child.
A paternity suit needs to be filed in the superior or state court in the county where the alleged father resides, or if he is a nonresident, in the county where the child resides. Under certain circumstances, the suit can be filed in an administrative court. If the moving party, the alleged father and the child are non-residents of Georgia, the suit cannot be filed in Georgia.
A paternity suit is distinct from a legitimation action, because while the father is identified and is thereafter obligated to pay child support, the father is not granted full parental rights where he has rights to custody or visitation of the child.
ADMINISTRATIVE ESTABLISHMENT OF PATERNITY
Outside of court action, the father can be identified on several administrative documents where he is recognized as the father. Most notable of these is a form that hospitals provide where the father admits to his being the father. While the language in this document uses the word “legitimation” to identify the attempted action in this document, it does not give the father rights to custody or visitation.
The administrative office of the courts publishes a document that states that the administrative acknowledgment of paternity confers the following benefits:
- The biological father’s name gets added to the child’s birth certificate;
- Financial support may be received by the father; and,
- The child may be eligible for social security benefits from the father.
AND, that document states that the purpose of going through this voluntary process allows:
- The father to be added to the child’s birth record;
- Furtherance of the efforts to legitimate the relationship between the father and the child; and,
- A low cost method for furthering the process of establishing a father-child relationship.
What is DOES NOT SAY, is that the administrative form generally available at the hospital will establish any rights to custody or visitation of the child. Those rights can only be established through a court order.
If the father has not married the mother of the child, or has not actually filed a legitimation action, he has no legal rights to custody or visitation.
If another party wants to establish the right of the child to financial support for that child’s upbringing, a qualified party as identified on this page needs to file a paternity action to establish that right.
If you need to establish who the legal father is for the support of your minor child, you need to talk to Roy Yunker, and hire him as your Georgia attorney, and establish that right to collect support.