Your Parental Rights as a Father
There is a common misperception that being named as the father on your child’s birth certificate is enough to ensure you have rights to visitation and for making decisions regarding their care. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In Georgia, unless a father legitimates his relationship with his child, although he may be responsible for paying child support, he is not granted any rights to custody and visitation.
In Georgia, there are four ways a father can legitimate his relationship with his child:
- He was legally married to the mother at the time she gave birth;
- He legally marries the mother after the birth and recognizes the child as his own (assuming paternity has not been disproved through the court system);
- He legally adopts the child;
- He files a Petition for Legitimation in court.
If a father has not married the mother of his child or legally adopted the child, then he must go to court to establish any rights to custody or visitation, even if he is on the child’s birth certificate.
Legitimation does more than establish custody and visitation. It also establishes the right of inheritance for your child and allows the court change the child’s last name to that of the father’s.
The court will look at several issues before legitimating a father. Most importantly, it will look at whether the legitimation is in the best interests of the child. The court will also examine the mother’s testimony. She will have the right to present her side of the matter to the court and can make objections to your requests for visitation, parenting time, or custody.
Due to the complex nature of the legitimation, an experienced legitimation attorney who knows the court system and can present your case well is essential. To get our team started on your case, call or contact Crystal Wright Law today and request a free consultation.