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Legitimation in Georgia is the legal process where the father of a child born out of wedlock may establish legal rights to his child.

Prior to legitimation, fathers of children born out of wedlock have no legal rights to their children.

Beside establishing legal rights to their children such as custody and visitation, legitimation also allows children to inherit from their father and have access to the medical history from their father’s side of the family.

Who can File for Legitimation in Georgia?

Only the biological father, not a step-parent, may bring a legitimation action in Georgia. There are two standards that may apply to evaluate whether legitimation is appropriate:

  1. Test of the father’s fitness as a parent, or
  2. The best interest of the child test

In addition to legitimation, claims of visitation, parenting-time or custody must be raised in the petition for legitimation. The court will not automatically award visitation or custody upon legitimation unless those additional claims are made.

When is a Child Legitimate?

4 ways a child is considered legitimate:

  • Born during marriage, or
  • The mother marries the father of a child born out of wedlock and the child is recognized by the father of the child as his, or
  • Conceived during marriage by artificial insemination and both parents have consented, or
  • A father petitions for and a court grants legitimation

Fathers Have No Rights Prior to Legitimation

Prior to legitimation of a child born outside of marriage, the mother is entitled to physical custody of the child and she exercises all parental power over the child. In other words, the father has NO rights to the child prior to legitimation.

Prior to legitimation, the father has no physical custody rights, no legal custody rights, and the father has no rights to visitation.

This means the mother does not have to allow the father to see the child, speak with the child and the mother does not have to allow the father to make any decisions regarding the upbringing of the child.

Fathers Must Pay Still Child Support – Even if the Child is Not Legitimated

It is the joint and several duty of each parent to provide for the maintenance, protection, and education of children born out of wedlock until age 18 unless otherwise ordered by the court.

Once paternity is established, the father can be ordered to start paying child support even though he may have no legal rights to the child.

Paying child support does not obligate the mother to allow the father to see his child. The father must still go through the legitimation process in order to have any legal rights to the child such as visitation or physical custody.

More information about Legitimation:
FAQ: Paternity & Legitimation

Need Help with the Legitimation Process

The legitimation process can be complex in the state of Georgia. Call the family law attorneys at the Brodie Law Group at (478) 239-2780 to get started with the legitimation process and gain legal rights to your child.

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