Legitimation and Paternity

When a child is born to parents who are not married, issues of parental rights and responsibilities may arise. Georgia courts address these issues through a process of legitimation or paternity.

Legitimation is the action initiated by a biological father to establish a legal relationship with a child. The legal effects that result from legitimation include the ability to make legal decisions on behalf of a child, custody and visitation, duty to provide financial support and inheritance rights. In Georgia, the birth mother of a child born outside of marriage has exclusive custodial rights until a father legitimizes the child.

Paternity is the action initiated generally by a birth mother, but may be initiated by a biological father, to establish a father’s legal relationship and duty to provide financial support to a child. While paternity establishes a father’s duty to support, it does not award a father with any other rights, such as custody or visitation. If paternity is contested, Georgia courts will often order genetic testing.

The Law Office of Carol Minn Vacca will help you protect your rights as you navigate through either process.

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