The modern family has changed from the traditional family structure that used to dominate history. Typical families today are made up of a loving blend of caregivers, partners, step children and step parents, extended family, new spouses and old spouses, and anyone else who finds family through love rather than blood. Unfortunately, in the eyes of Georgia law, love does not guarantee parental rights, which is why establishing legitimation in GA is a crucial step to anyone seeking official fatherhood.
What is Legitimation?
Under Georgia law, any man who is unmarried at the time of their child’s birth is not automatically recognized as the legal father and therefore has no paternal rights. Legitimation is the only other way to establish paternal rights in the eyes of the court, other than marrying the mother of the child. Those married to the mother of the child at the time of birth are automatically recognized as the legal father in Georgia.
Who Can File for Legitimation in GA?
Only the biological father of the child is eligible to file a petition seeking legitimation in GA. Fathers should be careful not to believe that just because their name is on the birth certificate means they have any legal right to the child.
Only legitimation or marriage to the mother of the child will stand up in court as proof of legal rights, and it must be filed in the county in which the child resides. Regardless of whether marriage is in the cards down the line or if you’re content with a domestic partnership, if a father wants any legal right to his child, he must file for legitimation in GA.
How Much Does It Cost and How Long Will It Take?
The Petition for Legitimation is not very expensive, with the basic fee to file running at about $80. However, in the instance the mother doesn’t acknowledge the petition, the county sheriff will be required to serve papers, at a rate of $25 per address until the mother acknowledges the petition.
The timeline varies based on the participation of both parties. If consent is given by the mother, then the paperwork can be signed immediately and work through the court in a few days, depending on workload. A dispute from the mother or another “father” could lengthen the process by several weeks or even months – this is determined by the specific facts of the case and what legal processes are required to move forward.
What Steps Do I Need to Take to Establish Legitimation in GA?
The first step to establishing legitimation in GA is to secure a family law attorney familiar with the legitimation process. Daniele & Associates is humbled to have served numerous fathers in establishing parental rights in Georgia and is highly practiced in the process.
The specifications and eligibility for legitimation vary from state to state, so if you’re seeking legitimation in GA, you’ll want to find an attorney well versed in the state-specific statutes. DJ Family Law has been helping fathers gain custody of their children for decades and is an expert in Georgia legitimation laws.