Legitimation in Georgia is one way for a biological father of a minor child to become the child’s legal father where the child was born out of wedlock.
Under Georgia law, the term biological father does not necessarily mean the legal father.
A biological father may make his relationship with the child legitimate by filing a legitimation in Georgia action against the mother of the child.
What does a child born out of wedlock mean?
A “child born out of wedlock” means: (1) A child whose parents are not married when the child is born or who do not get married afterwards; (2) a child who was born as a result of the wife’s cheating during marriage; or (3) a child who is not legitimate.
All children born within wedlock who have been conceived by artificial insemination are generally presumed legitimate.
What does legal father mean?
The term “legal father” may be different from the term “biological father” in a legal sense.
“Legal father” means a man who has not terminated or surrendered his rights to a child and who: (1) has adopted the child; (2) was married to the biological mother of the child when the child was born; (3) married the legal mother of the child after the child was born; or (4) has legitimated the child.
What is a petition for legitimation?
A petition for legitimation is a petition requesting a superior court of Georgia to render a biological father’s relationship with a minor child legitimate where the child was born out of wedlock.
Generally, the biological father would file the legitimation case in the superior court of the county where the mother of the child resides.
Can a mother refuse legitimation in Georgia?
A mother may deny or contest the father’s petition for legitimation in Georgia. If so, the court will decide the issue of legitimation after a hearing.
In response to a father’s petition for legitimation, the mother may bring up abandonment of opportunity interest. An unwed father has an opportunity interest to develop a relationship with his child. However, this opportunity interest may be considered abandoned by the father under certain circumstances.
An abandonment of this opportunity interest may occur where there are a biological father’s inaction during pregnancy and at birth of the child, a delay in filing a legitimation petition, and a lack of contact with his child.
Even before a child becomes legitimate, the biological father has a duty to support the child.
What are the steps to legitimize a child in Georgia?
One of the first steps to legitimize a child in Georgia is for the biological father to file his petition for legitimation. Then, he would have the mother of the child served so that she would have notice of the petition for legitimation.
The father may seek custody or visitation in that same legitimation action. The mother may seek child support in the legitimation action. Any contested issues would be resolved through mediation and/or a hearing.
What happens at a legitimation in Georgia hearing?
At a legitimation in Georgia hearing, each parent would present relevant evidence. Common issues in a legitimation case in Georgia include custody, visitation, and child support.
For example, if the father is seeking visitation as well, the father would present evidence to show why it would be in the child’s best interests for the father to be awarded visitation. The court may issue a parenting plan order.
The court may decide the issue of child support as well. If child support is an issue, each parent may present evidence related to their income and financial circumstances. The court may issue a child support order.
How long does legitimation take in GA?
How long the legitimation process takes in GA depends on many factors like whether there is at least a partial agreement on certain issues or not.
The legitimation process will take longer if the issues need to be resolved through a hearing rather than through an agreement of the parties.
How much does it cost to file legitimation in Georgia?
It is generally difficult to estimate how much a legitimation in Georgia would cost.
In addition to the court filing fees (usually over $200) and service of process fees (usually about $50), there could be attorney’s fees as well.