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What are voluntary and involuntary paternity?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2020 | paternity / legitimation

Legal paternity guidelines can be difficult or confusing for those unaware of the laws surrounding them. If you have a child in your life who you want to legally acknowledge, you should know the difference between voluntary and involuntary paternity.

Claiming voluntary paternity is a personal matter, which requires careful thought.


The difference between involuntary and voluntary paternity is that voluntary paternity rests on the father’s decision to legally acknowledge a child. This can come from a variety of situations, including the child being born to a married couple, a father marrying a mother who already has a child, voluntarily acknowledging paternity from a legal document, or having an otherwise significant relationship to the child.

Just because a mother writes a name on a birth certificate does not automatically make that man the father. Women who give birth may write down any name after the child is born, but this is not the same as voluntary paternity.

Voluntary or involuntary

Written documentation is the most widely used form of acknowledgment. In Georgia, a child being born to a married couple or a father signing a Paternity Acknowledgment Form are both valid ways to claim paternity. DNA or blood testing are other typical legitimization methods.

The mother may also bring lawsuits against a possible father. If a man is not married to the mother or does not legally acknowledge his paternity, a court case may require DNA tests to prove he is the biological father. This is involuntary paternity. Depending on the situation, you may not have to pay all the costs typically associated with the tests.