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What You Need To Know About Legitimation

Many men who consider themselves fathers find out the hard way that they have no such legal status or standing. You could be cut off from your own child – even if you had previously been changing diapers and paying support!

Fathers who were not married at the time of their baby’s birth must take the affirmative step of establishing legitimation before their parental rights are recognized under Georgia law. The Marietta lawyers of Hill Macdonald, LLC, can guide you through the process and aggressively assert your rights in related legal proceedings.

We proudly help dads take their rightful place and step up to their responsibilities. Our attorneys handle legitimation and fathers’ rights in Cobb, Fulton and Cherokee counties.

Legitimation Is A Necessary Step To Official Fatherhood

When a baby is born to a married couple, Georgia law automatically recognizes the husband as the father. When a baby is born out of wedlock, however, the biological father is not automatically acknowledged. An order of legitimation bestows that recognition as the legal father, the same as if he had been married to the mother.

What is “legitimation”?

Legitimation is a legal action. It is the only way, other than marrying the mother of a child, that the father of a child born in the state of Georgia may establish legal rights to his child.

Who may file for legitimation?

Only the biological father of a child may file a petition seeking to legitimate his child.

What is the effect of legitimation?

  • An order of legitimation creates a father-child relationship in the eyes of the law.
  • It allows the dad to be listed on the birth certificate.
  • It confers the child’s right to inherit from the father (and vice versa).
  • It allows the dad to assert and enforce his visitation and custody rights.

My name is on the birth certificate. Isn’t that enough?

Only a formal legitimation will stand up in court as proof of fatherhood.

I took a paternity test. Isn’t that enough?

As crazy as it sounds, no. Without legitimation, you could be compelled to pay child support after a DNA test, yet still be barred from custody.

How do I get a legitimation order? What does it cost?

The Petition for Legitimation must be filed with the court in the child’s county of residence. The basic filing fee is $80. If the mother does not acknowledge the petition, she must be served papers by the sheriff, at $25 per address until service is successful.

How long does legitimation take?

  • If the mother consents to the legitimation, the two of you can sign a document that may be presented to the court for approval immediately. Depending upon the court’s workload, this may take a few days.
  • If the mother or another “father” disputes the legitimation, the opposing party must be served with process. Discovery may or may not be required. Eventually, it may be necessary to have a hearing on the issue. How long this takes will be determined by the specific facts of the case and how each side responds during the litigation process.
  • If custody is at issue in a contested legitimation action, it will probably have the effect of making the action more complicated and making it last longer. Our trial lawyers have 25 combined years of family law experience and can help you in these cases.

Experienced Marietta Fathers’ Rights Attorneys

You may balk at the indignity of having to formally claim or “adopt” your own flesh and blood. It is nonetheless necessary if you want to be involved in your child’s upbringing. Waiting too long to legitimate your child could result in forfeiting your parental rights.

If you seek to establish paternity and legitimation, call our Marietta law office toll free at 770-679-2177 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.