You’ve been offering constant care: Changing diapers, financial assistance and being an all-around good dad. However, in Georgia, there’s one key caveat every biological father should know. Unless you’re married to the mother of your child, you’re not recognized in the eyes of the law as a dad. Legitimation is an essential legal process every father a child born out of wedlock should go through to make sure their rights are covered later on down the line. According to family law attorney Melissa Potter Sanford, legitimation offers a father the rightful title of “dad.” Below, you’ll find many commonly-asked questions regarding your rights, the process and why you must go through with it.
1) Later in life: A birth certificate is a legal document and the information it contains – or omits, in this case – will make things easier for the both of you later in life. By requesting the assistance of Georgia lawyer Melissa P Sanford to help you with the Petition of Legitimation process, the father will be able to list his name on his child’s birth certificate. This also means that they’d be granted custody and visitation rights should the couple split up.
2) What is and what isn’t: According to family law expert Melissa Potter Sanford, there are a few things that don’t constitute legitimation and won’t legally make you a father. They include using a paternity test as proof, paying child support, enrolling the child in school or naming the child in your will. If the court agrees that legitimation will benefit the child, then the process will go through.
3) What not to do: If the mother and father have gone separate ways at any point after birth, the legitimation process gets a little more complicated. According to Melissa P Sanford, fathers who’ve shown little effort in improving the child’s life, whether by being present or offering financial assistance, will face an uphill battle in the legal process. It’s on these grounds that a mother can voice her side of the story in court, thus giving a judge insight as to why the process shouldn’t proceed.