When a baby is born to married parents in Georgia, the husband is presumed to be the child’s father. However, if you weren’t married when your son or daughter was born, his name won’t automatically be placed on your child’s birth certificate. While there may be many benefits to adding a father’s name to that document, there may be pitfalls to doing so as well.

The benefits of adding a father to a birth certificate

If a man is named as your child’s legal father, he will likely be required to pay child support. Furthermore, your son or daughter may be entitled to financial and other benefits if the father were to pass away. Another key benefit is that your child may be covered by the father’s health insurance policy.

The downsides of adding a father to a birth certificate

There is a chance that a father won’t play an active role in your child’s life. This can be problematic when it comes time to get a passport or enroll your son or daughter in school. If the father cannot be located, it may take a court order to accomplish either of these tasks. It is also possible that your child’s father will assert his parental rights at an inopportune time. By keeping his name off of a birth certificate, it may be harder to make a claim for custody or increased parenting time.

The process of acknowledging paternity

To be added to a birth certificate, both parents must sign a acknowledgment of paternity form. Typically, two disinterested parties must witness the signing and add their signatures to the document as well. If the AOP form is signed at the hospital, the father’s name may appear on the original birth certificate. If not, it may be possible to have it amended in the future by submitting paperwork to the state and paying a fee.

Most family law judges believe that children should have liberal access to both parents, whether or not the mother and father were ever married. If you are in this type of situation, you might want to encourage the father to acknowledge his paternity. Unless the father has substance abuse problems or a pattern of domestic violence, it would be in your child’s best interest to be able to spend time with him.