Biological Father Does Not Mean Legal Father
Yes, you read that correctly! In the state of Georgia, if you are the biological father of a child but are not married (or have not been married) to the mother of the child, you automatically do not have any rights to the child. None!
The mother has sole custody of the child even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate and the father has signed the birth certificate.
This means that the father does not have claim to:
- Full or shared custody
- Input on child-rearing decisions such as education, religion, or healthcare.
How can an unwed father in the state of Georgia establish rights to his child?
Besides marrying the mother, the only way a father can gain rights to a child in the state of Georgia is through a legal action called Legitimation.
Legitimation is done with the help of a Georgia family practice attorney and will include a filing fee and fee of service (to serve the mother who must be formally notified). It does not include the lawyer’s fee. Note that if the court does not feel this is in the best interest of the child, the claim to legitimation can be denied by the judge.
Establishing Legitimation in Georgia Includes Many Parental Rights
- Standardized visitation and custody.
- Access to parenting portals such as the pediatrician’s office or school grades.
- Ability to contact the child’s teacher, doctor, coach, and others.
- The ability to enroll your child in educational and extracurricular activities.
- Establishes the right of inheritance from the father to the child.
If a father does not establish legitimation in Georgia, is he still liable for child support?
Here’s the twist. Child support can be sought by the mother/custodial parent without a legitimation order. The mother would file for a paternity test and child support. It’s up to the dad to counterclaim for his rights.
Pepitone Family Law firm in Gwinnett County and the Greater Atlanta Area, we can certainly help you with it!
If you want to learn more about the legitimation process in Georgia, contact our law firm to schedule a consultation and discuss options via a telephone call or in-person consultation. Click here to schedule an appointment today.