Being a father is a profound experience. It is a love unlike any other and a responsibility that lasts a lifetime. When you father a child, you have certain legal rights and responsibilities under Georgia state law.
Understanding those rights will help you protect your relationship with your child and protect yourself if there are other disagreements between you and the mother of your child. What rights does every father in Georgia need to know?
The right to an accurate record of parentage
Married men have a presumption of paternity when their wife has a child. They automatically go on the birth certificate as the father. Unmarried men may need to either sign papers with the mother or undergo genetic testing to affirm their paternity.
Men have the right to establish themselves legally as a father and to ask if the courts validate their paternity when they suspect infidelity by their spouse.
The right to shared parental responsibilities
Once a man establishes paternity, whether through his inclusion on the birth certificate or family court proceedings, he then has the right to ask for shared parental responsibilities and rights, like parenting time.
Time with the children is physical custody and something that will be important for single and divorced fathers. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make decisions for a child, and it can be important as well. Your legal custody gives you a say in your child’s health care, education and religious upbringing. Your parenting plan will outline rights and obligations as a parent.
The right to ask for modification or enforcement
When the current custody arrangements do not uphold the best interests of the child because they limit your parenting time or decision-making involvement, you may want to update those arrangements. Fathers have the right to seek modifications that increase their parenting time or give them legal custody if they have not previously asked for it.
Fathers can also go back to court to ask for enforcement actions if their ex won’t let them spend time with the children according to the parenting plan. Such actions can sometimes lead to a modification, like an increase in your parenting time. Parenting laws in Georgia do not discuss the sex or gender-identity of the parents, which means that you should have equal rights when compared with the mother of the child.
Standing up for your rights as a father will help you be a positive influence on your child for the rest of their life.