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In Georgia, just being on the birth certificate and acknowledging your desire to be the father of your child is not enough if this child is born out of wedlock. Georgia requires a father to legitimize their child. This means, if you have a child outside of wedlock, the state requires you to petition the court and ask to be recognized as the legal father and legitimize your child – essentially allowing your child to inherent and be declared legally your legitimate offspring. Legitimation not only protects the rights of the father but preserves the rights of the child.
Until the father seeks this relief from the court he does not have any rights of custody or visitation and will not be recognized as the legal father. This will involve a filing of a Petition for Paternity and Legitimation. The father will first have to establish paternity through a DNA test and if he is the biological father he can seek to have his legal rights established. A child born out of wedlock who is not the biological child of the man seeking a legitimation cannot be legitimated.
Many men find they are the biological father, are paying child support and are shocked to discover that they have no legal parental rights in the State of Georgia. The contradiction is that after paternity is established and father is determined to be the biological father the state will establish and enforce child support. In essence, you will have no legal rights yet you will pay monthly support if it is determined you are the biological father.
The mother can fight this petition and if it’s determined that you have not
exercised your opportunity interest or are unfit you may not be legitimated. Because of this it is highly recommended that you obtain counsel and seek your full legal rights as the legally recognized father as soon after the child is born as possible.