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What is the Legitimation Process In Georgia and Why Should I Do It?

In order to obtain legal rights as a father in Georgia you have to legitimize your child. If you were not married to the child’s mother when the child was born, without legitimization you have no rights to the child in Georgia. This may seem like a silly statement but before even beginning the legitimization process, it is a good idea to have a DNA test performed, if possible. Depending on the situation, the legitimization process may be an involved one and require several steps to be fulfilled. Knowing the true paternity at the outset can alleviate a lot of headache later.

There are many benefits to legitimization. Besides the legal rights of the father, such as being able to petition for custody and visitation, legitimization serves many purposes for the child. There are things that many people do not even think about that legitimization provides. Legitimization allows the child to inherit from their father. Legitimization also allows the child access to medical history from the father’s side of the family and allows the child to be placed in the care of a relative of the father if the mother is unable to care for the child. Georgia has made the legitimization process somewhat easier. Since 2005, when signing a voluntary paternity acknowledgement, in the same document, the parents can legitimize the child.

If legitimization is not completed within the voluntary paternity acknowledgment form, then you must petition the court in order to legitimate the child. The process for legitimization in Georgia can be found in O.C.G.A §19-7-22. A legitimization needs to be filed in the mother’s county of residence by going to the clerk of the superior court because that is where the child resides. If the mother is out of state or her whereabouts are unknown, then the petition may be filed in the father’s county of residence. If there is an open adoption preceding, the petition must be filed in the county where the adoption is taking place.

The petition for legitimization must state the name, age, and sex of the child, the name of the mother, and if the father desires to change the child’s name, the new name.  The mother of the child will be then given notice (served) that the father has filed a petition to legitimate the child. The mother can file objections to the legitimization if she wants. Once the mother has been served a hearing is requested and after the hearing takes place the judge will issue an order either legitimating the child or not legitimating the child. Legitimization petitions are usually granted unless it is show that the father is unfit.

A petition for legitimization can be filed pro se (own your own, without an attorney’s help) as it is a fairly easy process but it is best to contact a lawyer to make sure that it is done properly. This is especially true if you have a unique situation such as the mother contesting the legitimization or if the mother has an attorney. It is also best to have a lawyer if there has been family violence between you, your children or the mother or you are unable to locate the mother (the “Respondent”) to have her served with this action. Finally you will need an attorney if your child’s mother was married at the time your child was conceived or born. If you have questions about the legitimization process or would like for us to represent you please call the Boddie Law Firm at (404) 287-2393.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner. (Photograph: Murdo Macleod, Guardian News and Media Limited, UK.)

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit: What Rights Do I Have to My Child as an Unwed Father?

Question:  What rights do I have if I was not married to my child’s mother when she was born?

Answer:  Unfortunately, in Georgia, if you have not legitimized your child, you have no rights. The unwed mothers of illegitimate children in Georgia have full custody and all parental and legal rights as they pertain to the child.

In order to obtain rights for custody and visitation in Georgia, the child must be legitimized. This can be done either in conjunction with a voluntary paternity acknowledgement in which you can also legitimize the child. The other way to legitimize a child is to petition the court.

Once a child is legitimated, you have rights you can petition the court for custody and visitation. Keep in mind that, although you will gain rights after legitimization, you may also be required to pay child support at that time. It is very important that your child is legitimized if you want to have any rights, custody, or visitation. The process for legitimization in Georgia can be found in O.C.G.A §19-7-22.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Firm. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated and subject to editing, removal or deletion at the discretion of the owner. (Photo: UKTodayNews.com)

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit–Filing An Emergency Motion for Legitimation in Georgia

Question:  I want to get custody rights for my 3-year-old son but I have not filed for legitimation. My son’s mother is threatening to move to Jackson, Mississippi. Can I do anything to stop this move from happening?

Answer:  Yes. In Georgia, under O.G.C.A. 19-1-1(a), the non-custodial parent can file for legitimation in the county where the child resides. In this case, an Emergency Motion for Legitimation would be the best option to exercise because time is of the essence in getting the case before a superior court judge or judicial officer.

In most jurisdictions, the emergency motion would mandate that the court issue a standing order on both parents. This will prevent the custodial parent from leaving the State of Georgia until the issues of legitimation and child custody have been resolved by a superior court judge or judicial officer.

 

Please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at 404-287-2393 if you have any questions about the legitimation process, child custody or other family law matters in Georgia.

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated.

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Tuesday’s Legal Tidbit–Legitimation

Question : I am currently pregnant and I want to start the process of legitimation now. Can I do that?

Answer: Yes, you can start the process. Under Georgia Code §19-7-22, a child born out-of-wedlock can be legitimated by a paternity acknowledgment. This can be done if the Father wants and acknowledges that the child is his and the mother also acknowledges that child is his.

A Father has two choices when doing a paternity acknowledgment. First, a father can administratively acknowledge their biological relationship with the child. The Paternity Acknowledgment Form (Vital Records Form 3940) may be completed at the hospital at the time of the birth of a child or later at the Georgia State Office of Vital Records. The form must be signed in the presence of a notary and is filed with the Georgia State Office of Vital Records.

Second, a father can go into the Superior or Family Court in their jurisdiction before the birth of the child and state to the Court that the child is his and the Court will sign the Paternity Acknowledgment Form.

However, if the father does not want to sign a Paternity Acknowledgment Form, the Court will order a DNA test, which cannot be done until after the birth of child. In that case, the legitimation will be on hold until the birth of the child.

 

Please call The Boddie Law Group, LLC at 404-287-2393 if you have any questions about the legitimation process in Georgia.

 

(c) 2012. The Boddie Law Group, LLC. All rights reserved. The information contained in this post is subject to our Disclaimer. Comments to this blog are moderated.

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