How to Legitimize a Child Born Out of Wedlock

When a child is born out of wedlock in Georgia, the father may be required to undergo a paternity test to prove that the child is his own. A biological connection is not considered a legal connection to a child, however. Fathers in Georgia will also need to use legitimation to gain legal rights only attributed to fathers, and for the child to eventually gain their own specialized rights later on.

After legitimation, the following rights are established:

  • Child can gain inheritance from the father.
  • Child can access medical history from the father and the father’s family.
  • Child can be placed in a home belonging to a relative of the father.
  • Father can inherit property or monies from the child.
  • Father can petition for child custody rights.
  • Father can request or create a visitation schedule.

Out of Wedlock & Into Legitimation

Any child that was born of while its mother and father were not married is born out of wedlock in Georgia’s legal definition. A mother can give birth to a child while married but married to someone known not to be the father and the child is still considered to have been born out of wedlock. When a child is born out of wedlock for any reason, the father must use legitimation to gain legal parentage rights.

The child’s biological father can gain legitimation simply by marrying the child’s biological mother, so long as she was not married to another person at the time of the child’s birth. If it is known that the mother’s husband is not the child’s biological father, he does not have paternity rights but he has legitimation rights. A child’s biological father can also complete legitimation by signing an acknowledgement of legitimation in the hospital shortly after the child is born; this is generally signed and filed with acknowledgement of paternity.

A biological father who does not have parentage rights due to a lack of legitimation may find themselves in a legal contest with a father who has legitimation but not paternity. Georgia prioritizes the importance of legitimation over paternity in most cases, meaning a genetic connection to a child will not supersede a legal or familial connection. Any challenge for legitimation will be weighed against the child’s best interests, not that of the parents.

Winning Legitimation in a Legal Contest

If you need to gain legitimation to establish the paternal rights you deserve as a child’s father, biological or not, preparing yourself for family law court may be optimal. With the help of our Lawrenceville family law attorney from Fox Firm, P.C., you can create an argument that shows your parentage will benefit your child in ways that the child’s mother or another father could not. Contact us online or call 770.884.7469 today to learn more.

We also serve clients throughout Gwinnett County.

Categories: Georgia Laws, Legitimation