Trusted Counsel
For More Than 30 Years

Using Legitimation To Get Legal Rights Regarding Your Child

Legitimation is the legal process to establish the father’s legal rights in Georgia. Without legitimation, the father of a child born to unmarried parents has no custody rights, even if he is listed on the birth certificate. However, if it is established that he is the biological father, he will be responsible for child support, even if he has not legitimized the child.

Few fathers want all of the financial obligations of being a parent without any of the emotional and legal benefits of custody. Legitimation can accomplish several goals:

  • It can give fathers the right to visitation or custody of minor children
  • It allows for children to inherit from fathers and fathers to inherit from children
  • It gives children the right to access medical history on their father’s side
  • It may modify or allow for Social Security or other benefits

Legitimation is only necessary for children born “out of wedlock.” Under Georgia law, if a mother is married at the time of birth, her spouse is the presumed legal parent.

The Legitimation Process And Establishing Custody Rights

A father who wishes to have custody rights must file a petition with the court to legitimate the child or children. This could include joint legal custody with visitation rights, joint physical custody, or even sole custody if the child is not in a healthy environment at his or her current home. The child’s name may also be legally changed and a new birth certificate issued.

Can The Child’s Mother Deny A Petition For Legitimation?

A petition for legitimation cannot be denied without going through the legitimation process. However, a mother can contest the petition by claiming that the petitioner is not the biological father. If DNA testing proves that the petitioner is the biological father, legitimation is usually granted. Once paternity is established, legitimation can only be denied if it is proven that the father lost his opportunity of interest. This means that the father knew about the child but chose not to be involved in the child’s life and failed to file for legitimation in a timely manner. What the court considers timely varies from case to case based on the father’s involvement with the child, whether he is financially supporting the child and other factors. It is always best to start the process as quickly as possible.

Get Help With Legitimation From An Experienced Augusta Family Law Attorney

A respected lawyer throughout Augusta, Catherine Ryan has guided many fathers through the legitimation process. She has been helping Georgia families for over 30 years regarding legitimation, child custody and adoption. To learn about your rights under Georgia law, schedule a consultation with Ms. Ryan. She will clearly explain your rights, answer your questions and provide knowledgeable legal help throughout the process. You can call 706-251-7612 or reach us online.

We only practice in the state of Georgia.