The question of who fathered a child may seem like fodder for daytime talk shows and soap operas. But questions about a child’s paternity occur often. Some of the reasons that the courts may deal with paternity issues include:
- The child’s mother decides she wants to collect child support from the biological father. This could happen after another man believed he was the father. Both men may be tested to see who the father is.
- The father wants to prove the child is his so that he can visit or obtain custody.
- The parents are divorcing and the father wants to make sure he is the father or the child before he is ordered to pay child support.
Any man who questions whether or not he is the actual father of a child should find out as soon as possible. In Georgia courts, you cannot go back and order a paternity test after you have started paying child support for children that were born when you were married to their mother. In other words, if you have any doubts at all, don’t just ignore the question because you can’t ask it later.
The situation is more challenging if the parents were never married. A mother cannot go and request child support just because she believes the man is the father. The Georgia Office of Child Support Services offers DNA testing. The office does not locate fathers who cannot be found if there is not a determination of paternity already. The mother will be responsible for finding the father and reporting him After the DNA test, if it is determined that the man is the father or cannot be excluded as the father, the mother can file a case for support with the state’s child support office.
Tips for mothers questioning their child’s paternity:
- If you are pregnant, consult an attorney as soon as possible if the father is not willing to acknowledge paternity. You need to protect the rights of your child now.
- Don’t assume that one man is the father if you have had multiple partners. If you allow the wrong man to claim paternity, it is difficult to come back later and correct the mistake.
Tips for fathers in paternity cases:
- Don’t assume you are the father just because you have physical similarities. Take a DNA test.
- Consult a Georgia family law attorney before signing any legal documents, even if they are from the state.