On Christmas Eve I received a tearful phone call from a father tormented by the loss of his child that evening. This man is on the birth certificate, he has raised his son alone for the last four years and this Christmas Eve the mother has decided that she wants her son back. She simply showed up with the police and said I want my son and there was very little they could do but help return the child. You may ask how is she able to show up after all of this time and just take him, and the answer is welcome to Georgia.
In Georgia a father who has a child born out of wedlock is penalized by not being giving any legal rights until he petitions for those rights from the court. This is called a legitimation action and for fathers who have children born out of wedlock I strongly suggest you file one. You see, in Georgia you are the biological father and as such you are responsible for paying child support; however, you are not the legal father and you have no rights of custody or visitation. Sadly, when the man above called devastated that the mother returned and left with his child there is very little that can be done at that moment as he is a legal stranger to that child regardless of the fact that he has spent four years raising him on his own.
I am very hopeful that he will gain custody now that he is filing the proper legal action but this could have been avoided if he followed my advice months ago. Father’s protect your rights and remember that if you have children born out of wedlock you do not have legal rights in this state until you file for legitimation. Too often I discuss this issue with fathers who are convinced that the mother will work with you and too often life changes, new men are introduced, money is needed and then all of the promises made in good faith are forgotten. The process is not difficult but without this order you are subject to the whims of the mother and may find yourself calling a lawyer on Christmas Eve.