Having the chance to be a parent is something many people dream of. Learning you are going to be a father can be exciting, as you look forward to raising and taking care of your child.
But what if the mother of the child claims that you are not the father? You may be sure you are, but before you can pursue a custody action and obtain the right to see your child, you must prove you are the father by establishing paternity.
The petition to establish paternity
Georgia law allows someone who is alleged to be the father of a child to file a petition to establish paternity. You can file this petition before the child is born and serve it on the mother; however, some steps cannot be taken until after the birth of the child.
As part of your petition, you will need to submit a sworn statement giving information showing why you believe there is a reasonable probability that the child is yours. This usually means stating that you and the mother engaged in sexual contact during the time of conception.
Genetic testing requirements
After your petition is filed, the court can order that you, the mother and the child submit to genetic testing. The tests should be performed as soon as it is medically feasible after the child is born.
There are various testing requirements. For example, the tests must be performed by a qualified person and at a certified laboratory.
What happens if the tests aren’t done?
A court order to establish paternity is enforceable just like any other court order. Therefore, if the mother refuses to cooperate by submitting to testing, or making the child available for testing, you can file a contempt petition with the court.
A contempt hearing will be held, and the court will re-order that the testing be completed. Penalties can potentially be assessed for refusing to comply with the order.
The steps to establish paternity must be completed correctly. Any mistake could result in a delay in the process. Legal professionals provide helpful guidance and assistance.