Establishing Legal Rights And Responsibilities For Unwed Fathers
Unlike many other states, Georgia does not recognize the parental rights or legal responsibilities of a father if he is not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth. Establishing those rights and responsibilities requires two legal processes, which are best completed with the help of an experienced attorney.
Paternity Actions And Legitimations – What Is The Difference?
Courts have long made it clear that paternity and legitimation are two distinct legal concepts in Georgia. Paternity actions are often brought by the mother to seek a child support obligation and establish who is the biological father of a child.
Conversely, the father’s action is called a legitimation action. While it is necessary to first establish a biological relationship, legitimation is not based on biology alone. In Georgia, a father must use the legitimation process to establish a legal relationship with his child. Only once this legal relationship is established will a father be granted visitation and child custody rights.
In essence, paternity equals child support, and legitimation equals child custody and parenting time.
Establishing Paternity Does Not Guarantee Legitimation
Although the law favors legitimation, there are times when the court could find that granting the legitimation is not in the best interests of the child. For example, if the biological father sexually abused the child in question, the court could deny the legitimation.
Should the court grant the legitimation, the court can consider the visitation and custodial rights of the father. Likewise, the court will set child support.
Valuable Counsel For Your Paternity Or Legitimation Action
Paternity actions in Georgia can be filed by men or women. Once one party files, any component of the relationship – such as visitation – can instantly become an issue.
I can counsel you if you’re a mother who wants to use a paternity suit to identify the father of your child for purposes of establishing child support obligations. I also represent fathers whose paternity suits are aimed at gaining child custody and visitation rights as well as those who want to establish that they are not a father in a given case.
I can call on DNA testing resources to establish or disprove paternity, and I negotiate and draft relevant documents for my clients. Every aspect of my firm’s paternity practice is carried out with utmost discretion and privacy.
Once paternity is established, I can help you seek legitimation (as a father) as a means of gaining more involvement in your child’s life. Alternatively, if you are the mother of the child, I can represent you in a motion to deny legitimation if you believe that a father-child relationship would not be in your child’s best interests.
Contact The Firm To Discuss Your Options
From my office in Gainesville, Candace M. Williams, P.C., I serve clients throughout northeast Georgia. To arrange your initial consultation, please fill out my online contact form or call 470-705-5442.