As an unmarried father in Georgia, you might already put in time and effort to care for and be with your children. While having an emotional connection and being present for your children helps parents and children thrive, it doesn’t give you legal rights as a father.
However, through establishing paternity and the legitimation process, you can expand the ways you are able to look after your little ones without having to walk down the aisle. And the benefits of solidifying your rights are plentiful.
What does it mean to establish paternity?
Through establishing paternity in The Peach State, fathers can pass on their name and financial resources to their children. Whether you sign a form at or after your child’s birth acknowledging you are the father or take a genetic test, you can add your name to your child’s birth certificate. And all the paths to paternity make way for a child support order, which allows you to assist your child financially.
What’s the purpose of legitimation?
Although establishing paternity may create accountability between you and your co-parent and trust between you and your children, it doesn’t automatically give you custody rights. Earning the ability to make legal decisions for your child and parenting time or visitation happens through legitimation.
If you are planning to file for legitimation, it’s worth noting that:
- You must be the child’s biological father
- You need to file a petition in the county where the child’s mother lives
- You should include the name, age and gender of the child; the name of the child’s mother; and indicate any changes to your child’s name you’d like the court to approve
Legitimizing your child is a way to guarantee you can be a pillar in your child’s life for many years to come. This is because receiving legal custody often means you can have a say in your child’s school, religion and medical decisions — all of which can shape your child’s life experiences and knowledge. And having the right to spend time with your children, means your child’s other parent can’t stand in the way of the bond you hope to create with your children through the years. Plus, beyond visitation and custody rights, your child will be able to receive an inheritance from you when you aren’t around in the physical form to look out for them.
Creating long-term security for your children by securing your rights may be possible with the help of an experienced family law attorney.