Fathers who have children out of wedlock may assume that they have the right to be involved in their child's life. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Unmarried mothers automatically have parental rights. However, men who father children out of wedlock do not have a legal right to see their child unless they go through a legal process known as legitimation.
Is paternity the same as legitimation?
In Georgia, the two terms are different. A mother who is seeking the right to receive child support from the biological father must establish paternity. However, establishing paternity does not give the father the right to be involved in the child's life.
Is signing a paternity acknowledgment form the same as legitimation?
Signing a paternity acknowledgement form gives you certain rights, such as the right to have your name on the child's birth certificate. It also gives you the right to receive notice before the mother can put the child up for adoption or terminate your parental rights. Signing the form created an obligation to pay child support. However, it does not give you the right to be involved in your child's life. The mother can deny visits if she chooses.
What does legitimation do?
Legitimation gives certain rights to the father and the child. The father can pursue custody and visitation rights. The child has the right to collect insurance benefits and inherit from the father's estate.
How do I establish legitimation?
You can establish legitimation through a local court. If the mother does not agree you are the father, you can obtain a paternity test as a part of the legal process. Once you establish paternity, you will be the child's legal father in every way.