Unmarried Fathers In Georgia: Here’s How Custody Works

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You’ve played an active role in your child’s life, so when the mother simply takes the child and leaves, dealing with this can be stressful. After all, you pay child support and you signed the birth certificate. You should have every right to your child, right?

Georgia child custody laws give preference to the mother and, if you never married the mother, then you have no right to your child. If you are an unmarried father and would like custody or visitation rights, then The Fairell Firm can help. We handle family law in Atlanta for a variety of cases, including rights for unmarried fathers. Watch our video and read below to learn about this aspect of family law, and contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Paying Child Support Does Not Guarantee Visitation Or Custody Rights

This is shocking to many, but, according to Georgia child support laws, you can be ordered to pay child support without having any rights to your child. According to family law:

  • Child support orders are only in regard to finances. Custody will not be addressed during child support cases. For example, our family law lawyers often help fathers in court who are prepared to list all the reasons they should have rights to their child — and the judge will say it is a child support case not a child custody case, and that it will not be discussed.
  • If you weren’t married and still aren’t married to the child’s mother, then you have no rights until you pursue them through the court system.

Unmarried Fathers Have No Rights To Their Child

The law will vary from state to state, but in Georgia, the mother has full rights to the child if you weren’t or aren’t married to her. She has full parental power and does not have to consult with you about anything regarding your child.

In fact, she can prevent you from seeing your child and even deny your access to their school or doctor. She can change her phone number, block yours, or even move out of the state or country. And remember — you may still have to pay child support throughout this time even though she has all the parental rights.

Signing A Birth Certificate Doesn’t Give You Rights

While this may seem unfair, this is what child custody laws in Georgia require — even if you signed your child’s birth certificate. Signing the birth certificate was an official, responsible thing to do, but it simply means you acknowledged paternity and are the biological father — it doesn’t make you the legal father.

Biological vs. Legal Father

Being the biological father means you’re related, but it doesn’t give you any rights. To be the legal father means you are recognized by law and can have legal or visitation rights. You have the right to be in your child’s life.

How To Become The Legal Father When Unmarried

You’re not without hope, though. If you’re the biological father — even though you weren’t and aren’t married to the child’s mother — you can become the legal father with the help of a legitimation order.

Outside of marriage, legitimation is the only way to establish legal rights to your child. It is a legal action that lists you as the father and it will be honored in court.

However, legitimation orders don’t lay out custody specifics. After you complete a legitimation order, you’ll still need a court action to establish custody and what level of visitation, custody, etc. you now have. Check out our post on why legitimation is necessary for your rights and how it works.

Get Help With Family Law In Atlanta

Having a relationship with your child will be beneficial for both them and you. Don’t let something like not being married to your child’s mother prevent this from happening. Though that’s required by child custody laws in Georgia, a legitimation order can get you legal custody. Work with The Fairell Firm today. We have a team of child custody lawyers who will work hard to help you become the legal father and not just the biological father. If you need help with legitimation or another aspect of family law, then schedule a consultation today!

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