When a child is born to unwed parents in Georgia, the biological father must file a petition for paternity and have paternity established to be acknowledged as the child’s legal father and allow a court to enforce his duty to financially support his child. However, this is not the only step in the process of establishing full rights and recognition as a parent. In order to completely claim legal parentage of a child, the father must file a petition for legitimation. Legitimation is necessary for the father to be able to petition a court for custody of the child or visitation with the child. Beyond granting the father the ability to parent the child on a regular basis, legitimation gives the father the right to inherit from the child if the child passes away. It also affords the child basic rights, including the right to inherit from his father, the right to obtain medical history from his father’s family, and the right to be placed in the home of a paternal relative if the child’s mother becomes unable to care for the child.
The process of legitimizing a child can be relatively easy when the child’s mother is not married to the biological father or to anyone else. However, there are rarer cases in which a mother is married to one man but gives birth to a child with a different biological father as a result of an extramarital affair. In Georgia as in other states, a married mother’s husband is legally the father of any child born to her, and a biological father faces an uphill battle in claiming paternity and having a petition for legitimation granted. And no matter what, whether the child’s mother is unmarried or married, even if paternity is established, no biological father has a guaranteed right to have a petition for legitimation granted. Courts will look at whether granting a legitimation petition would be in the child’s best interest, and whether the biological father made an effort to develop a relationship with his child or support him or her financially. In every case, a court must weigh each of these factors.
When you have children, the most important thing for you and them both is to ensure that your relationship is on solid footing. To seek help with paternity or legitimation questions, calling on an experienced family lawyer is highly suggested. CAM Law will work with you to ensure that the most appropriate outcome is within reach. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at 770-608-2890.