|Posted on October 7, 2015 at 5:00 PM|
There is a common misconception that mothers have more rights to child custody than fathers and this is not true. In fact, both parents have equal rights to the custody of the children, even though there are some policies and procedures that come into play for fathers who were not married to their children's mother when she gave birth to the children. In Georgia, unwed fathers are not automatically given rights to their children, even when the birth certificate states the father's name. A legitimation action must be filed with the courts in order to gain the parental right to custody and to make the child an heir of the father. Essentially, a legitimation action provides legal rights to both the father and child(ren). A petition for legitimation must be filed by the father and the mother may consent to the legitimation. Additionally, the legitimation action must be filed in the county where the mother resides. The father, if he chooses, may also include claims for custody, visitation, or parenting time in the legitimation action. Until a legitimation action is filed, the mother of a child born out of wedlock is the only individual with a legal claim of right to the child.
As with any legal action, it is important to consult with an attorney prior to filing a petition for legitimation.
-Faith P. Barrett-Hill, Esq.