The complexity of Georgia's law regarding paternity and an infant's surname depends on the parents' marriage status. An infant born to a married couple automatically receives his father's surname, or last name, because Georgia considers the baby legitimate. An infant born out of wedlock, however, doesn't automatically receive his father's last name. Instead, the unmarried parents must complete certain steps required by Georgia law to give an infant his father's surname.
Georgia law considers an infant born to unwed parents illegitimate. Thus, the infant receives the mother's maiden name on his birth certificate until the parents establish paternity. The state allows unmarried parents to establish paternity in two ways: completing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form or filing a petition with Georgia's Superior Court. Once the parents complete either task, the infant can receive the father's surname.
Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form
The Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form allows parents to establish paternity for their child. Both parents can sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment Form, also called PA, near or at the time of an infant's birth. For instance, parents may sign the form at the hospital. The form creates a legal father-child relationship. The hospital sends the form to Georgia's Office of Vital Records. If parents decide to sign the form after leaving the hospital, the parents have to sign the document in front of a notary public. The parents also have the responsibility of sending the form to the vital records office.
Filing a Petition
A father may establish paternity by filing a petition in Georgia's Superior Court. The petition must include vital information about the child such as her name, gender and age. The father has to list the mother's name too. To change the child's last name to his, the father must request in the petition to change the child's name---and include the new name. If the court grants the petition, a judge passes an order declaring the child legitimate and changes the surname.
Once the parents complete either the PA or petition, the child is considered born into lawful wedlock. Before that occurs, the infant isn't able to inherit the father's benefits or estate. Parents can rescind the PA within 60 days of signing it. If parents decide to establish paternity after leaving the hospital, Georgia issues a new birth certificate with the child's new name.