I'm pregnant, the father is not going to be there for the delivery and will not be signing the birth certificate. Can he or his parents take me to court for a DNA test, to force me to take child support and give them visitation? Or can he force me to legitimize the baby?
He can file a petition for legitimation, also seeking custody and/or visitation. If you deny that he is the father, the Judge can order you to submit to a DNA test. Child support is usually included in that case, also. You can contest all of it in court. However, unless you have a good reason to keep this man from seeing his child, the Judge will most likely grant legitimation and visitation. If you strongly oppose it without good reason, you may be subjecting yourself to a claim for custody. You need to retain an experienced custody attorney as soon as he attempts to serve you with legal papers.
I am exclusively a family law attorney, practicing primarily in the metro Atlanta, Georgia trial courts. However, I handle appeals from anywhere in Georgia.
The father can petition the court for a DNA test and he can file to legitimize the child and ask for some form of custody & visitation. Then if the DNA test proves that he is the biological father, the judge will determine whether or not to give him any custody, whether legal or physical or to give him visitation. If he decides to file for legitimation, you will be served with a copy of the petition and will get an opportunity to respond. As far as forcing you to legitimize the child, you don't legitimize the child, the court does that. And if he files, you can hire an attorney to present evidence if you do not want him to have custody or visitation. But if the judge gives that to him, there will be nothing you can do to stop it.
I agree with my colleagues. Force is not the correct word. However, the father can file a motion for paternity, legitimation, custody, visitation and child support. Paternity is determined by a DNA test and if there is some question about whether he is the father or if you don't voluntarily consent to the DNA test, the court can order you and your child to take one. If he is determined to be the parent, the court will consider the legitimation petition. There would have to be something major wrong in the father's life for the legitimation not to be granted. Then the judge will determine custody and visitation and child support. As you can see, there are many things to consider. I strongly encourage you to get an attorney if the baby's father is headed down this path.
Georgia just recently passed House Bill 568, which now requires DNA testing in cases in which paternity has not been established on new child support cases through the Department of Children Services. In short, if you would like to have DCSS establish or enforce a child support order in the future, a DNA test will now be required.
The opinions expressed should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction.
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