A petition to establish paternity may be brought by 1) the child, 2) the mother of the child, 3) any relative in whose care the child has been placed, 4) the Department of Human Resources, and 5) the alleged father.
A counterclaim by the mother in a legitimation action also converts a legitimation action in to a paternity suit.
DNA genetic testing may be required in certain circumstances to confirm that the alleged father is in fact genetically the father of the child. Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties, the Court will determine who is responsible for the costs of the DNA testing.
Paternity actions are filed where the father resides, but if the father is not a resident of the State of Georgia, then the action is filed in the county where the child resides.
If a party fails to answer a Paternity complaint within 30 days of being served he/she will be in default and subject to verdict and judgment against them.
A hearing on a paternity complaint can be held in “closed court”, meaning not open to the public, upon motin by either party requesting a closed court hearing.
If a party brings a paternity action before the birth of a child, all proceedings will be stayed until the birth of the child. A stay does not stop either side from participating in the discovery process to get information (personal, financial, etc.) and to take depositions, if warranted, to properly prepare for trial.
A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity signed by the parents with teh State of Georgia putative father registry is considered legal determination of paternity. However, there is a right to rescind prior to 1) the date of the support order, 2) any other order which sets out paternity, or 3) 60 days from the signing of the agreement, whichever is earlier.
In a paternity action, the parties may agree to custody, parenting time, and child support. If, however, the parties cannot agree, the Court will make these determinations for the parties.