For some families, child support matters are very simple. A married couple divorces and quickly agrees to a specific amount of support. Other times, the situation is more complicated than that.
Both parents have certain rights under Georgia state law, as well as responsibilities to the children that they share with one another, regardless of their marital status. However, there can be some confusion regarding the obligations and rights of a man who never married the mother of his child.
Unmarried fathers usually need to officially establish paternity if they want to ask the courts for parenting time. Paternity is also a key factor in child support cases. The state requires the establishment of paternity in cases where there is a question about the father’s relationship before child support begins.
Many unmarried fathers establish paternity early
Georgia state law permits parents to cooperate with one another to establish paternity outside of a legal marriage. Provided that the parents work together, they can complete a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity that will add the father to the birth certificate at the hospital after the child’s birth. They can also fill out and submit paperwork together anytime until the child turns 18.
If you already took this step after the birth of your child, then questions of paternity likely won’t delay a child support request. The state won’t require any testing to affirm what both parents have already attested to in writing.
However, if you have yet to establish paternity, you will need to do so before the courts will order child support. The father can still voluntarily agree to acknowledge his paternity, although he may be less willing to do so when facing immediate child support claims.
If the father is uncooperative, the Georgia family courts can compel him to submit to genetic testing to affirm whether or not he is the father of the child. Once testing affirms an unmarried father’s paternity, it will then be possible for the mother to pursue child support in accordance with state statutes. Learning more about fathers rights, child support rules and paternity requirements will help unmarried parents navigate the challenges of shared custody and support.