Atlanta Legitimation Attorney
Help with Paternity Issues
When a child is born to parents who are not married, legal paternity—and the rights and responsibilities that go with it—is not automatic. In fact, Georgia law establishes two distinct levels of legal recognition for the relationship between a father and a child born outside of marriage. These are paternity and legitimation. Paternity establishes who the biological father of the child is (and obligates the payment of child support), while legitimation (a legal step above paternity) establishes parental rights with and to the child, namely the right to request custody and/or visitation. The Solomon Firm has extensive experience representing fathers in Atlanta legitimation proceedings.
Petitioning for Legitimation in Georgia
In Georgia, paternity can be established through a voluntary acknowledgment process, where the father fills out a form at the time of birth or later at the Georgia State Office of Vital Records. With voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, the biological father’s name is added to the child’s birth certificate, financial support may be received from the father, and the child may be eligible for Social Security benefits from the father. The voluntary process for establishing paternity can also be used in furtherance of efforts to legitimate the relationship between the father and the child.
If paternity has not been established through the voluntary acknowledgment process, a single petition for paternity and legitimation may be filed any time after the birth of the child by the father, which may include claims for custody, visitation, and/or parenting time. Only the biological father of a child may file a judicial petition seeking to legitimate his child.
A legitimation petition must be filed in the county of the residence of the child’s mother (or other party having legal custody or guardianship of the child), unless the mother (or other party) resides outside Georgia or cannot be found in the state. Then, the legitimation petition may be filed in the county of the father’s residence or the county of the child’s residence. But regardless of where the petition is filed, the mother must be named as a party, and she will be served and provided an opportunity to be heard in court.
Reasons a Legitimation Petition May be Contested
The child’s mother may contest a legitimation petition by alleging the petitioner is not the child’s biological father or that he has lost his “opportunity interest to develop a relationship with the child.” If paternity has not been established and the mother alleges the petitioner is not the child’s biological father, any party (mother, father, attorney, state agency, etc.) may make a motion for the court to order the mother, alleged father, and child to submit to genetic tests.
Talk to an Experienced Atlanta Legitimation Attorney
Depending on your circumstances, legitimation proceedings can be challenging and emotional. Strong legal guidance will improve your chances of successfully establishing your parental rights. For more information about legitimation in Georgia, please contact The Solomon Firm in Atlanta. Your first consultation with an experienced legitimation attorney is free of charge.