In Georgia, the legal issue paternity comes up in several ways. For example, the mother of a child may file a paternity action against the alleged biological father to collect child support. The mother may also file criminal charges against the alleged father for non-support. The father may wish to legitimate his child and to obtain visitation and custody rights. In addition, a former boyfriend or estranged husband may wish to dispute allegations that he is the father of a child.

A paternity suit is when a mother who is not married to the father of her baby brings a lawsuit to declare who the father of the child is. A legitimation suit is where the father of the child brings a lawsuit against the mother to declare that he is the father of the child. There are some distinctions between these two types of suits due to the historical way these issues were once treated, but for practical purposes these are the same lawsuit so we will just refer to it as a paternity suit.

As a mother, you have the option to file a legal action to establish paternity of the biological father of the child. This would be the first step toward establishing paternity so that you can begin receiving child support.

Other issues and questions also arise in paternity cases: It is important to note that any child that is born to a married woman is presumed to be her husband’s child. Therefore, if you were married when you got pregnant — or when the baby was born — and you know that your husband is not the father of the child, you would need to take appropriate steps to have the actual father legitimized as the father. Otherwise your husband will be presumed to be the father of your child.

Also, if you are the husband and you think your wife’s child is not yours, it may be wise to have a DNA test done for both you and the child. Fortunately for men, the mother’s DNA is not required for this test. If the DNA test results indicate that the child is not likely yours, then you should contact a family law attorney immediately to protect your legal rights.

If you are the father of a child and the mother who is married to someone else — and you want to gain legal rights as the father, you will need to take legal action to legitimize yourself as the child’s father. If you do establish yourself as the legal father of your child, it will be presumed the husband is the father. As a result, the husband alone will have all the rights and responsibilities as the father of the child.

At Coleman Legal Group, LLC, our family law attorneys will help you establish your rights as a father by guiding you through the legal process and representing you in Court as needed.