How can a man legitimate his parental relationship in Georgia?

On Behalf of | Mar 11, 2024 | Child Custody & Legitimation

In theory, both men and women have equal rights under basic Georgia family law. However, in terms of parental rights, men are sometimes at a disadvantage. The biological relationship between a mother and child is usually incontrovertible. In the vast majority of cases, there are medical professionals who witness the live birth and can affirm the mother’s relationship to the newborn.

The same is simply not the case for the father of the child. A man’s presence at the delivery of a baby does not guarantee he is actually the father. Even if he signs the birth certificate, the state may not yet acknowledge him as the father. Fathers in Georgia may need to pursue legitimization to ask for shared custody and play an active role in the lives of their children.

What does paternal legitimation in Georgia typically require?

Legitimation occurs in the Superior Court

Sometimes, both parents of a child agree that acknowledging the man is the best arrangement for the family. There are voluntary paternity documents that the parents can execute jointly. Parents can fill out that paperwork and then proceed to request legitimation from the state without any conflict.

Unmarried fathers usually need to petition the courts to legitimize their relationship with their children. They submit a request to the Superior Court in the court where the mother currently resides. The courts notify the mother, who can either approve of the legitimation or object. Her cooperation can speed up the process, but her objection does not automatically impede a father’s attempt to legitimate his relationship with his child.

If the parents don’t agree, then a judge will review everything. There could be paternity documents and other evidence helping to support the father’s request. If the judge believes that the legitimation is likely in the child’s best interests, they can grant the father’s request. The entire process could take anywhere from a few weeks to multiple months depending on the circumstances.

Legitimization is necessary for unmarried fathers who hope to secure custody rights or parenting time. Understanding the requirements for parents in different circumstances, and seeking legal guidance whenever necessary, in Georgia may benefit those who want to develop a strong and healthy relationship with a child born to unmarried parents.