Protecting Your Rights as an Unmarried Father in Georgia
If you are the father of a child born out of wedlock, you need to protect your rights by pursuing paternity and legitimation.
July 11, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- So you're about to become a dad -- congratulations! Getting ready for a new baby is a big job, but if you and the baby's mother are not married, there is one important task you need to take care of. You need to establish paternity and go through the process of legitimating your child. If you don't, you will have no legal rights regarding the care and custody of the child.
In Georgia, when a child is born outside of a marriage, the mother is the only person allowed to have legal or physical custody of the child. There are no automatic fathers' rights. This is true even if the mother and father live together or have been in a committed relationship for several years.
If the father wishes to have a legal relationship with his child, he must legitimate the child.
How to Establish Paternity
Paternity establishes a man as the biological father of a child. Georgia law provides three different routes for establishing paternity.
The easiest way is for both the mother and the father to sign a document called a "voluntary acknowledgement of paternity" and file it with the Department of Human Resources. If one parent refuses to sign the document, either parent can go to court to bring an action to establish paternity.
In other cases, the Department of Human Resources may bring an action on its own to determine the paternity of a child.
Paternity establishes a duty to pay child support. It does not give a father a right to seek visitation or custody of a child.
How to Legitimate a Child
An unwed Georgia father who wishes to establish legal rights to a child must go through a process called "legitimation." It is very important to note that simply putting the father's name on the child's birth certificate does not create a legal relationship.
As with paternity, the easiest way to legitimate a child is for the mother and the father to complete the "legitimation" section on the paternity acknowledgment form.
If the mother does not consent to the father's attempt to legitimate the child, the father can bring a legitimation action in superior court and seek custody and/or visitation.
Be Proactive -- Protect Yourself and Your Child
Georgia grants almost no automatic rights to a father of a child born outside of a marriage. If you are planning to have a child, start discussing paternity and legitimation with the child's mother now. If your child has already been born, know that it is never too late to protect your rights.
If you want to establish a legal relationship with a child born out of wedlock, talk to a Georgia fathers' rights attorney who can help you understand your options.
Article provided by Daniels & Taylor, P.C.
Visit us at www.danielstaylor.com/
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