Paternity cases allow individuals to determine the father of a child. This is an important process that impacts the lives of children and their families.
But how paternity is determined may not always be clear. In order to achieve the best outcome for your case, you should understand what paternity is and how it’s determined by the courts.
Establishing paternity simply means to determine who the biological father of a child is. This is accomplished through a variety of methods and legal processes.
Paternity testing may be mandatory. This occurs in cases involving child support where the paternity has not been previously determined.
In Georgia, the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) must perform paternity testing when processing these cases.
This is typically done through an Administrative or Superior Court, and individuals may have to reimburse the DCSS for any testing fees based on the outcome of the paternity tests.
Actions That Require Paternity Testing
There are many ways in which paternity can be determined. Both the father and mother of a child can voluntarily recognize paternity.
It can also be determined as a result of a petition filed by either parent or any individual who can legally ask the courts to implement paternity testing.
In other cases, the Office of State Administrative Hearings may decide on establishing paternity if requested to do so by the Department of Human Services.
Any individual who is identified as the father can ask for a court trial if he denies paternity.
Parental Rights in Paternity Cases
Paternity can be sought out by individuals as well as the Department of Human Services.
The child’s mother may or may not be party to the suit depending on the jurisdiction to which she is subject.
In cases where the mother is not subject to the jurisdiction where the paternity suit is filed, she will receive notification of the petition and is granted an opportunity to address the court if she chooses.
The rights of the father are an important consideration in paternity cases. Georgia law only grants mothers custody to children who are born outside of wedlock.
Paternity cases that identify an individual as the father can grant him visitation rights in cases where it supports the best interests of the child.
If the father wants to gain custody rights to a child born out of wedlock, he can complete the process of legitimizing the child.
Individuals who are party to a paternity case may request DNA testing. However, this must be approved by the courts in order for it to be implemented.
The individual who made the request for DNA testing must also cover the costs of the test.
Recent changes in the law now allow the Department of Human Services to use DNA testing to determine unresolved paternity.
In addition, legislation has been put in place to protect individuals who are wrongfully claimed in paternity cases. This prevents any man who is proven to not be the biological father from having to provide child support.
DNA testing benefits programs such as the Division of Child Support Services, which can now establish paternity early on when processing cases.
New laws also allow the use of federal grants to cover the cost of testing along with other funding.
By identifying the biological father through DNA testing, children can gain the support they need while fathers may be more inclined to participate in raising the child.
Establishing paternity supports the wellbeing of the child and the entire family. It provides the child with parents who will participate in providing the resources needed to raise him or her while ensuring that any benefits from the father can be obtained.
Understanding how paternity is determined helps you achieve the resolution you’re after. Consulting with a family law attorney provides you with the additional resources needed to determine the best options for your case.