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Proving a Contested Paternity Case in Georgia

In Georgia, as elsewhere in the country, the paternity of a child can affect multiple legal rights and benefits, among them child support payments and health insurance coverage. It can also be important to determining the child’s medical needs based on the father’s genetic and health history. Paternity further establishes a child’s right to inherit property from his or her father’s estate.

Paternity is usually not disputed. There is a legal presumption that if a child is born in wedlock, the male spouse is the father. The same is true of a child conceived during the marriage but born afterward. If the spouse or ex-spouse denies paternity, the burden falls on him to prove he is not the biological father. Otherwise, paternity is deemed to exist be established as a matter of law.

In the case of a child born out of wedlock, paternity can be established voluntarily by both parents signing a Paternity Acknowledgment Form at the hospital when the child is born or later at the state or county Office of Vital Records. This form must be signed in the presence of a notary.

However, when paternity is contested, the mother or legal custodian of the child may have to take legal action to establish it. They can petition the Superior Court for an order officially recognizing paternity. If the initial testimony presented establishes shows a reasonable possibility that the alleged father had sexual contact with the mother at the time of conception, the court will order that testing be performed. This order can be enforced using the court’s contempt powers if necessary.

The most reliable method of proving paternity is DNA testing, which produces highly accurate findings. If the test results show a probability of paternity of at least 97 percent, the alleged father is presumed to be the biological father. If not, the court will receive and consider other evidence and testimony.

When DNA testing isn’t conclusive, blood type testing can serve to exclude certain individuals as the father, narrowing down possibilities. Witness testimonies, although subjective, can also be used, with courts evaluating their credibility and relevance to the case. Additionally, circumstantial evidence, such as cohabitation during the conception period or financial support provided to the child, can be relevant.

The specific approach to proving paternity will depend on the individual circumstances of the case and the evidence available. An attorney experienced in family law and paternity procedures can guide you through the available options, advise on evidence gathering strategies, and represent your interests effectively in court. 

If you’re a mother who wants and wish to use bring a paternity suit to identify the father of your child for purposes of establishing child support obligations, call the Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan at 470-344-8550 or contact me online to schedule a consultation.