Men, if you help to conceive a child, help raise them as your own, and the mother of the child were not married when the child was born, then you are a dad in every sense of the word…but one. Unfortunately, in Georgia, you are not the father in a legal sense.
This means two things:
- You will have no legal right to the child
- You will have no legal responsibility to the child
If you want to claim the child as your own, then you can do so through Legitimation. Legitimation is an action that grants you the right to:
- Have custody
- Have visitation
- Inherit from the child
- Have the child inherit from you
And the responsibility to:
- Pay child support
How do you get a legitimation?
If you want to establish your legal relationship with your child, you will need to file a Legitimation action with the courts. Just having your name on the birth certificate will not be enough. To get visitation rights the father would have to file a Petition for Custody and/or Visitation and the mother would have to file a Petition for Child Support.
A determination of paternity is not a two-way street
When a mother seeks Child Support, the court will use DNA testing to identify the father. Then the court will determine the father’s responsibility for paying child support but not his rights to visitation and custody. To establish those, you will have to file a counterclaim to her petition asking for the court to determine your legal rights.
Whether you are a father establishing his legal rights or a mother establishing the father’s legal responsibilities, it is important that you speak with a lawyer to find out how to protect your child and avoid waiving your rights. To discuss the specifics of your case, call us at 678.324-8511 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn more.