It can be challenging for a father to claim rights over his child or for a mother to ensure support from the father if their child is born outside of marriage.
At Rubin Family Law, our team strategically handles matters pertaining to unmarried parents, helping either a mother establish paternity or assisting the father as he pursues legitimation. Through our compassionate understanding and strategic guidance, we can help both mothers and fathers move toward their legal goals within parenthood.
Paternity vs. Legitimation: What’s the Difference?
In Georgia, the only parent with legal and physical custody rights of a child born out of wedlock is the mother. Even if the father’s name is listed on the child’s birth certificate, this only helps support his case for paternity. However, it neither proves paternity nor legitimizes his position as the legal father. He remains without parenting rights if he is not married to the mother.
Paternity is the primary factor needed to enforce child support. If a mother seeks child support from the father, she must establish paternity. Legitimation is not necessary for the court to order an unmarried father to pay child support.
Unmarried parents can establish paternity in several ways:
The father may consent to his name being listed on the birth certificate. Although this does not prove paternity, it does establish him as the identified father.
The father may sign the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form, which allows both the mother and the father to acknowledge his role as the biological father. Both parents must sign the form, and it is only useful in establishing paternity, not legitimation.
The father may undergo a paternity test voluntarily or through a mandatory court order.
Legitimation is the act of establishing the father’s legal rights over a child born outside of marriage. Through legitimation, a father gains several benefits, including the rights to custody and visitation.
There are several ways an unmarried father may legitimate their children:
The father may marry the mother after the child is born and legally recognize the child as his own.
The father may establish a committed paternal role by legally adopting the child.
The father may file a legitimation action.
The process of legitimation starts with a court hearing. Most courts will require a paternity test and will hear arguments from the mother’s side, if any. The court will then analyze the evidence to ultimately decide if legitimation is in the child’s best interest.
Protect Your Parental Rights with Rubin Family Law
Seeking paternity or establishing legitimation can be a tricky, complicated process. Don’t take the journey alone. Trust the team at Rubin Family Law to fight for you as you pursue your parental rights. Our paternity lawyers approach each case with deep knowledge of the law and caring compassion for you throughout the process.
A word from our client
“I used Kevin’s services and I couldn’t be happier with my outcome. Kevin was professional, responsive, and most importantly delivered beyond my expectations. I would highly recommend his services.” – Asif