In Georgia, when a child is born outside of marriage, the mother has full and complete legal rights to and responsibilities for the child. However, without legal process, the mother has no legal way to enforce any specific amount of child support. Without legal process, the father has no legal rights to the child at all, including visitation. Without legal process, the father also has no specific child support obligations, but he is still required to support his children, and failure to do so could lead to criminal prosecution for Child Abandonment.
A Paternity case may be initiated by the mother or the father, and the only goal is to establish the identity of the biological father, which in turn leads to the specific child support obligation the father will have to pay. However, a Paternity case does not relate to visitation rights or legal custody rights. Typically, the mother files a paternity action against an alleged father to force him to pay child support. A father may file a paternity action to disprove an allegation of fatherhood.
The court must establish paternity before it can order a father to pay child support. If paternity is denied or challenged, or if there is any doubt about parentage, a court-ordered DNA testing of the parents and child will resolve that issue. However, paternity may be consented to, and many times the parents know who the father is without the necessity of DNA testing.
If you would like to discuss your case, call or email for a free, confidential consultation.