Family law in Georgia varies from other states in different ways. This can be confusing to the average Georgian when it comes to divorce, child support, child custody, and more.
One way that Georgia law differs is with legitimation. In today’s blog, we’ll cover what legitimation is and just why it’s so important for your rights as a father. If you need family law experts who can help you achieve legal status as a father, contact The Fairell Firm in Atlanta today.
Legitimation Makes You A Father Officially
You may have thought that holding your newborn child, changing diapers over the years, and enduring sleepless nights made you a father. But if you and your partner weren’t married when the baby was born, then you don’t actually have legal standing as a father in Georgia. Here, the biological father is not automatically acknowledged as the father if the baby was born out of wedlock.
You are only a legal father in Georgia if you:
- Legally adopted a child
- Were married to the mother at the time of birth or conception
- Married the mother after the child was born and recognized the child as your own
- Have been determined to be the legal father by a paternity order
- Have been determined to be the legal father by a final legitimation order
- Have legitimized a child through an acknowledgement of legitimation
Legitimation is one of the ways to become a legally recognized father. Legitimation is a legal action that lists you as the father, even if you and the child’s mother weren’t married when the baby was born. This is the only way, outside of marriage, to become the legal father to the child and establish legal rights.
It’s important to note that this is not at all the same as adoption. Legitimation can only take place with the biological father of a child.
Here’s Why That Is Important
But your name is on the birth certificate, you protest. Or you took a paternity test, you say.
When it comes to actual proof of fatherhood in Georgia, a legitimation test is the only option. Here’s what not having legitimation could effect:
- Legitimation will allow you, the father, to enforce your visitation and custody rights after you and your previous partner have separated.
- Legitimation will allow you, the father, to confer an inheritance to your child or from your child to you.
- Legitimation will allow you, the father, to be responsible for child support. Once legitimation is finalized, the court will establish your child support duty.
- Legitimation will allow you, the father, to make legal decisions for your child — decisions that you would otherwise be left out of.
- Legitimation will allow the child to take your, the father’s, last name if it’s in their best interest.