Paternity and Legitimation in Atlanta
According to the Pew Research Center, one-quarter of all parents in the U.S. are unmarried, and the share of children being raised by unmarried parents is growing at a steady rate. These parents aren’t all single moms or single dads flying solo; a growing share of unmarried parents are cohabiting and raising their children together. These are simply facts about modern life in America, but they can create legal difficulties for mothers, fathers, and children, especially if the relationship sours and the parents live or move apart.
Custodial parents can get court-ordered financial support from the other parent, and non-custodial parents can get court-ordered visitation and other legal rights. Children acquire a number of rights through their parents as well. Before any of this can happen, though, the child’s parentage must be legally established. In Georgia, this is done through the legal processes of paternity and legitimation.
These processes can be fairly simple if the parents agree, or they can be difficult and complex if the parents don’t agree or if third parties are involved. In any case, having the assistance of skilled and knowledgeable family law attorneys can be instrumental. The experienced paternity and legitimation lawyers at The Gleklen Law Firm can advise you and guide you through the process and make sure your rights and interests are protected along the way and that your needs are reflected in the final outcome.
See below to learn more about paternity and legitimation in Georgia. For help with a family law legal proceeding in Atlanta, call The Gleklen Law Firm at 678-236-0444, or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
What Is Paternity?
Paternity is fatherhood. Establishing paternity means proving who a child’s biological father is. The parents might not have any question over who the father is, but they might still need to take steps to prove it. Here’s how paternity works under Georgia law.
If the parents are married when their child is born, the husband is presumed to be the father of the child, and no other steps need to be taken. However, another person could still come forward and say he is the father or somebody else is, in which case further legal proceedings might be needed to establish paternity.
If the parents aren’t married at the time of birth, then they do have to take extra steps to establish the child’s paternity. The easiest way to do this is for the father to sign the Georgia Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form. This form is available at the hospital and can be completed on the spot, but it can also be accomplished later by signing the form in front of a notary and filing with the Office of Vital Records.
When the question of paternity is disputed by one of the parties – the mother, one or more possible fathers, the child, another relative who is taking care of the child, or even Child Services – then they will have to go to court to establish paternity. The judge will hold a hearing or conduct a trial, listen to testimony and review the evidence, and decide the question of paternity.
If the parents later married and are now getting divorced, or if they were living together and are now getting separated, then the question of paternity might come up in the divorce or separation legal proceeding and have to be decided then.
What Is Legitimation?
Whereas paternity establishes who a child’s biological father is, legitimation is a legal process needed to give that father a legal status and legal rights as the kid’s dad. A father who is married to the mother within ten months before birth or when the child is born has the legal status of a father. The father could also marry the mother and acknowledge the child by completing the legitimation section of the Georgia Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form discussed above. Finally, the father could petition the court within the first year of the child’s life for a court order granting legitimation. The mother will receive notice of this petition and have the ability to challenge it in court, arguing he isn’t the father or has lost his opportunity to develop a relationship with the kid.
Whether or not the parent is the child’s biological father, he must have legal status as the legitimate father if he wants to seek out a court order for custody, visitation or parenting time. Even without legitimation, though, a biological father could still be ordered to pay child support.
How Paternity and Legitimation Benefit the Kids
Paternity and legitimation do more than just impact issues such as child custody and support. Legitimation also creates legal rights for the children, such as inheriting from their father, getting on his health insurance, or receiving government benefits such as Social Security through the dad. Knowing your paternity can be important to know your family medical history and identity, and legitimation can be a vital part of forming and strengthening family bonds and the parent-child relationship.
The Gleklen Law Firm Is Here to Help With Paternity, Legitimation and Other Family Law Needs
For help with paternity, legitimation, or other family law matters in Atlanta, call The Gleklen Law Firm at 678-236-0444. Our lawyers are highly experienced in these areas, including representing all the different parties and advancing and protecting their legal rights through litigation when needed. We have the knowledge, skills and dedication to help you with all your family law needs.