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Unmarried? You may not legally be your child's father.

Having children may be one of the truest blessings the world can offer a couple in love. In today's society, however, couples are choosing cohabitation over marriage more than ever. If you're part of a cohabitating couple, keep in mind that this may create some unique wrinkles if you decide to have children.

Simply having your little one delivered and being committed to each other isn't enough. If you are unmarried when your baby is born, then in the state of Georgia the man is not legally the father. There's no need for anxiety, though: There are two ways to establish paternity for new parents.

Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment

The simplest way to make sure dad is legally your new baby's father is to fill out a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form. This will establish the legal relationship between the father and child when the biological father and mother aren't married. You will most likely be prompted to fill one out right at the hospital when the child is born.

If you fail to fill out a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement form at the hospital, you can receive another at the State Office of Vital Records in Atlanta, or the Vital Records Office in the county where your child was born.

Paternity action in court

In the unfortunate event that paternity is contested, a second option is available: A father, mother, or government worker may submit a paternity action to the court. This action requires a father to be recognized. A government worker will typically do this when child support is an issue. Paternity testing for a small fee is available if proof is necessary.

There are many reasons to legally acknowledge the father's paternity - not the least of which is the emotional support a father lends to a developing child and the family as a whole. Having both parents' names on the birth certificate also ensures the payment of child support, should that be necessary, and that your child will have access to both parents' social security, health benefits and inheritance.

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