Did you know that in Georgia, a father has no legal rights to his children who are born out of wedlock?
Yes, you read that right.
Per O.C.G.A § 19-7-22, for the father of a child born out of wedlock to gain rights to his child, the father must either marry the mother or be legitimated. Legitimation creates a legal father-child relationship (a relationship that is recognized by the government), which enables the child to inherit from his or her father. Once a father is legitimated, he has the same rights to custody and parenting time (visitation) as the other parent. O.C.G.A § 19-7-22.
Not every father is eligible for legitimation. If a court determines that a father has abandoned his opportunity interest to develop a relationship with his child, he can be denied legitimation. Alternatively, if a court finds that legitimation is not in the child’s best interest, it must decline to issue an order of legitimation. This is uncommon, but you may want to speak with an experienced attorney who can analyze the facts of your case and determine the likely outcomes based on those facts.
My name is on my child’s birth certificate. Do I have parental rights?
While the appearance of your name on your child’s birth certificate provides some evidence that you are a biological parent, being listed as the father on the birth certificate alone does not provide you with parental rights. You will need to legitimate.
I just moved to Georgia from a state where I had rights to my child. Does that make a difference?
Family laws governing parental rights can vary from state to state. You will be subject to Georgia’s legitimation law (if it applies to your situation) unless there is an order from another state that can be enforced in Georgia.
We receive many questions in this area, and we welcome any others you may have regarding your own case. Feel free to give us a call to set up a consultation.
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