How Can DNA Testing Help Establish Paternity in Georgia?
In Georgia, DNA testing has become an essential tool in establishing paternity with high accuracy and reliability. Determining the biological father of a child is a crucial step in helping a child have access to essential rights such as child support and inheritance. Our attorneys go over the process of using DNA to determine paternity in Georgia and explain how you can get help if you are facing a paternity dispute.
How Is Paternity Established in Georgia?
Paternity is the legal identification of a child’s father. Establishing paternity is important for identifying a child’s biological father and provides benefits like child support, inheritance rights, and access to the father’s medical history. In Georgia, paternity can be established voluntarily or through legal action.
If a child is born to unmarried parents, the parents may voluntarily sign a Paternity Acknowledgment document at the time of birth. The parents may sign the form at the hospital or later by visiting their local Vital Records office. When the father signs a paternity acknowledgment form, he establishes himself as the biological father of his child, and both the mother’s and the father’s names will appear on the birth certificate. However, if there is a disagreement over who is the biological father of a child, the mother or another interested party that cares for the child may petition the court to establish paternity.
What is a DNA Test?
DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, a molecule that carries the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms. Because every person’s DNA is unique (except for identical twins), a DNA test allows for the identification of shared genetic markers.
In Georgia, DNA testing for paternity typically involves the collection of DNA samples from both the alleged father and the child. The samples are usually obtained through a simple and painless procedure, such as swabbing the inside of the cheek. These samples are then sent to a certified laboratory for analysis.
When is a DNA Test Required to Establish Paternity?
DNA analysis involves comparing specific regions of the DNA profiles of the alleged father and the child. The laboratory technicians examine the DNA sequences to identify the presence of shared genetic markers. By comparing these markers, it is easy to determine whether a man shares these genetic markers with his alleged child.
A DNA test is usually needed in cases where there are disagreements over who the biological father of a child is or in cases where a local, state, or federal court mandates the father, the mother, and the child to submit to a DNA test for divorce procedures or to determine matters such as child support and custody. If a man has reasons to believe he is not the biological father of a child, he can challenge paternity within 60 days of signing a Paternity Acknowledgement form by submitting DNA evidence.
What Is a Legitimation Action, and When Is It Necessary?
Georgia has unique paternity laws that separate the biological and legal relationships between a father and his child. Paternity is simply the acknowledgment that a man is the biological father of his child. However, it does not automatically grant the individual parental legal rights and responsibilities.
When a biological father of a child born out of wedlock wishes to be recognized as the child’s legal father, he may initiate what is called a legitimation action. When a father legitimates a child, he may gain parental rights such as custody and visitation and may also be ordered to pay child support. The child also has the right to inherit from the father and receive benefits such as social security and medical insurance. The only person that can file for legitimation is the biological father. However, if a mother wishes to have a man acknowledged as the legal father of her child and the man denies paternity, the mother may initiate a paternity action with the court.
When Should I Speak to a Paternity Attorney?
Establishing paternity in Georgia can be a complex process, especially when there are disagreements about who the biological father of a child is. If you are a father who has not yet been acknowledged as a legal parent of your child, a paternity attorney can help you initiate a legitimation action so you can gain both rights and responsibilities over your child. In contrast, you may also be dealing with a dispute and have reasons to believe you signed a Paternity Acknowledgement in error. In that case, an attorney can advise you on the steps you should take to challenge your paternity establishment using DNA testing.
If you are a mother seeking to have someone legally acknowledged as the father of your child in order to gain rights such as child support, an attorney can help you navigate the process of petitioning the court for establishment of paternity. Another situation in which an attorney may provide invaluable services and representation is concerning the inheritance rights of heirs through DNA results.
Whatever paternity-related challenges you may be facing, getting the right legal counsel and representation can make all the difference. At Lunn Law, LLC, our family law and paternity attorneys have the knowledge and skills to assist clients and their families with a variety of cases. If you are dealing with a paternity dispute, need help understanding your rights or are ready to take action and need a strong legal ally, our legal team is here to help. Contact our office by calling 770-762-4628 and requesting an initial consultation to discuss your case.