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Understanding a Father's Rights: Unmarried Parents


Georgia laws are very clear when it comes to a father's rights. Providing that the father was married to the child's mother at the time the child was born, the father will have the same parental rights and responsibilities as the child's mother. In cases where a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is automatically granted parental rights. That does not hold true for the father. Fathers of children born out of wedlock may have no parental rights as far as child custody and visitation unless action is taken to preserve those rights. They do, however, have a legal obligation to pay child support and provide for their child's welfare and upbringing.

If you, as the father of a child born out of wedlock, wish to have any sort of child custody rights or visitation rights, you will have to take action through a legal process called legitimation. Legitimation is the process by which the unwed father is legally determined to be the father of the child. In some cases, this can be done shortly after the child is born by both mother and father filling out and signing a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement (PA) form.

Legitimation can be beneficial for other reasons that the PA form does not cover, such as giving the biological father a specified visitation schedule and changing the minor child's last name to reflect that of the father. Furthermore, after legitimation, the child would be eligible to potentially receive the father's social security benefits, inherit from the father's estate and/or receive other benefits pertaining to the father as well.

Should you wish to secure your parental rights, without marrying the mother of your child, you need to consult with a family law attorney at Henrickson & Sereebutra right away. It is important to note that there is no guarantee the court will approve your request, even if legal paternity has been established, as the court will only authorize such requests based on the best interests of the child(ren). When you contact an attorney at the firm, they will take the time to review your unique situation, advise you of your legal rights, help you prepare evidence to support your Petition for Legitimation and provide you with the advocacy you need to protect your rights as a father. When it comes to Legitimation, the sooner the process is started after the minor child's birth, the better.

Protect your father's rights. Contact a Paulding County divorce lawyer at the firm today to discuss your case.