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In Georgia, it's not easy for fathers to secure parental rights

If a father wishes to establish his parental rights to a son or daughter born out of wedlock, he must follow every step of a legal process to legitimate the child. Simply put, without legitimation, the father will have no custody or visitation rights, and the child will be unable to inherit any of the father's assets unless complex arrangements are made.

Unfortunately, many parents are unaware that legitimation is necessary. Others may understand that it's important, but fail to carry out the process correctly - it's easy to make mistakes. This is why it's so important to work with a qualified and experienced lawyer who can make sure all the required measures are taken. 

What are the most common mistakes?

Many fathers assume that to secure parental rights all they need to do is prove their biological relationship to the child. In Georgia, however, this isn't the case. There are other common points of confusion as well. Our state's Legal Aid Society lays out, in a simple manner, a few examples of actions that do not qualify as legitimation:

  • Being named the father in a paternity test
  • Paying child support
  • Naming the child as a beneficiary in the father's will
  • Enrolling the child in school
  • Signing the child's birth certificate (prior to 2008)

It's easy to see where the confusion comes in. Any of these would seem to establish a legal relationship between a father and child. Yet legitimation requires a separate process.  

How is legitimation established?

There are two primary ways to legitimate a child. The easiest means is for both parents to fill out a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This form is available at any Vital Records office in Georgia, and should also be available in the hospital where the child was born.

Otherwise, the father must file a Petition for Legitimation with the courts. Such a request will not automatically be granted - rather, the courts will only approve such petitions if they believe legitimation to be in the child's best interests.

To learn more, it may be helpful to reach out to an attorney. As with all legal processes, legitimation is far from straightforward. Getting advice from a seasoned professional may be a crucial step on the path toward success.


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2415 Beaver Ruin Road
Norcross, GA 30071

Phone: 770-901-2917
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