Quite a few men who want to play an involved role in the lives of their children don’t understand their rights. It is a common misconception that only those married to the mother of their child have the right to seek custody or visitation.
However, any biological father who has not had his rights terminated by the state can seek a parental relationship with his children. In order to gain access to the children through shared custody or visitation, you will need to establish paternity with the state of Georgia.
Being on the birth certificate is the easiest route
There are different ways to get the state to recognize you as the biological father of a child. The simplest is when the mother lists you on the birth certificate at the hospital.
If your name already appears on the birth certificate, you may be able to ask the courts for either shared custody or visitation. If you aren’t on the birth certificate, you can ask the mother to add you through an acknowledgment form. If she won’t voluntarily agree to your paternity claims, you can ask the state to step in.
The courts can order genetic testing
Once you advise the courts that you reasonably believe you are the father of a child and wish to fulfill your obligations to that child, the state of Georgia will take steps to help you. The courts can order genetic testing to affirm your paternal relationship.
Once genetic tests confirm that you are the father, you then have the right to seek either shared custody or at least visitation. Along with those new rights will come responsibilities to your child, which may include the obligation to pay child support. However, the more parenting time you have, the less child support obligation you will likely incur.