When a child is born in Georgia to married parents, both the husband and the wife are presumed to be the father and mother of the newborn. But, when new parents aren't married at the time a child is born, only the mother is presumed to be the child's parent. The father must take additional steps to guarantee his right to custody or visitation of his child.
After the birth, both parents have the option of signing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement (PA) form. The PA form is a step toward establishing paternity and a new father's rights to custody or visitation.
A Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement can be a powerful document. If signed, a new father is accepting his responsibility to support the child until he or she turns 18. He may also be responsible for part of the medical expenses of the mother from the child birth process.
A PA not only lays out a father's obligations, however. Once signed, a new father now has the right to seek custody or visitation of his child, he will be given notice if the mother decides to put the child up for adoption or terminate his parental rights and his child will be able to collect social security benefits through him if other eligibility requirements are met.
Once signed, a PA can be rescinded. Either the mother or the father can negate the recognition of paternity within 60 days of it being signed. If the PA is rescinded, the birth certificate will still reflect the name of the man who signed the PA until a court order requiring the name be removed is obtained. If a PA is not rescinded within the 60 day time frame, the acceptance of paternity can only be contested if fraud, duress or a material mistake of fact occurred.
Signing a Georgia Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement can be a powerful document. If you have doubts about whether you are the father of a child, it may be best to undergo genetic testing to determine paternity prior to executing a PA. If you've signed a PA and now wish to challenge the document stating that you are a child's father, a Georgia father's rights attorney can discuss your options with you.
Source: Georgia Department of Human Services, "Paternity Establishment,"