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Can I challenge a husband’s paternity, if I think I’m the father?

Life is complicated and, sometimes, messy. And, you may find yourself wondering whether you are the father of a baby that already has a presumed father, like a baby born to a married couple. In Georgia, challenging the paternity of a husband involves navigating complex legal processes and understanding the state’s family laws.

Understanding paternity

Under state law, a child born to a married woman is legally presumed to be the child of her husband. However, situations can arise where another man believes he is the biological father, possibly due to an extramarital relationship or some other sperm donation.

The right to challenge paternity

A man in Georgia has the right to challenge the presumed paternity of a husband if he believes he is the biological father. This challenge involves legally establishing paternity, a process that grants official recognition to the biological father.

Steps to challenge paternity

Challenging paternity is a multi-step process that typically requires legal assistance. The first step is for the alleged biological father to file a petition to establish paternity. This can be initiated by the alleged father, the mother, the child, a relative caring for the child or the Georgia Department of Human Services.

Next, the court may order genetic testing for the mother, the child and the alleged father to confirm biological relationships. The cost is generally paid by the petitioner or the alleged father. If the genetic test confirms the man is the biological father, the court will proceed with the paternity case, considering various factors before making a final determination.

Consequences of challenging paternity

Successfully challenging paternity has significant legal implications. If a man is legally recognized as the biological father, he gains the rights to physical and legal custody of the child. However, these rights are not automatic and must be separately established through a legitimation action, which formally grants custody and visitation rights.

On the other hand, the father is also now financially responsible for their new child. Depending on the circumstances, this likely means the new father will have new financial responsibilities.


Challenging paternity in Georgia is a serious legal matter with far-reaching consequences. Understanding the process and potential outcomes is crucial before taking action.