Some Georgia parents who are no longer together or who are not married may decide to deal with custody issues themselves. However, there are many benefits for both the child and the parents to have the father legally establish paternity.
Establishing paternity ensures that the child will have the right to child support. The custodial parent can use the monthly child support to assist with the costs of education, food, shelter and extra activities. Establishing paternity also gives the child a legal right to death benefits, which could include any inheritance, Social Security or veteran's benefits. The child will also have access to his or her family's medical history. The father benefits from establishing paternity by being able to exercise the right to visitation or the ability to seek custody.
Birth fathers can voluntarily establish paternity in several ways. One way is for him to be present at the birth to sign the Declaration of Paternity, which may also be called an Acknowledgment of Paternity. The birth father can also complete an affidavit of paternity any time before the child turns 18 if he is not at the actual birth. At this point, the birth certificate can be altered to include the birth father's name.
It is usually beneficial for the birth father to be involved in his child's life. While some fathers may feel that they are at a disadvantage when seeking to exercise their rights as parents, the state of Georgia does consider both fathers and mothers to have equal rights when it comes to custody. A family law attorney may assist with going through the process of establishing paternity and adding the parent's name to the birth certificate. The attorney may also work to increase visitation, even if the parent has not been active in the child's life.