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The state of Georgia recognizes the relationship between a father and a child through paternity and legitimation. Paternity establishes the biological condition of a father, but it does not establish the legal relationship between a father and child.

A father can voluntarily acknowledge his biological relationship with his child by providing his written consent on the birth certificate. Or, he can administratively acknowledge his biological relationship on the Paternity Acknowledgement Form which can be completed at the hospital at the time of the birth or later at the Georgia State Office of Vital Records.

Once a father completes the Paternity Acknowledgement Form and his name is added to the child's birth certificate, the child may receive financial support from their father and, the child may become eligible for Social Security benefits from him. An experienced Gwinnett County legitimation attorney can assist you in the paternity and legitimation process so that your best interests are protected.

Understanding the Legitimation Process

Legitimation allows the biological father to be recognized as the legal father to a child who was born out of wedlock. There is a section on the bottom of the Paternity Acknowledgement Form that is for the acknowledgment of legitimation. This section of the form is a voluntary declaration which is made by both the mother and the father claiming that the relationship between the father and the child is considered legitimate.

Upon signing, both parents are freely agreeing upon the legitimization of their child and both the mother and father's signatures are required. The signatures must be notarized and photo identification is required. The Paternity Acknowledgement form is then filed with the Georgia State Office of Vital Records.

Voluntary acknowledgement must take place before the child's first birthday. The mother and the father must agree freely and give their consent. If the mother is married to someone else, or if there is another legal father, or if she was married to another man during the gestation, then the legitimation section of the Paternity Acknowledgement form cannot be signed. Furthermore, if the mother signed another form with another man, or if her parental rights were terminated then the form cannot be signed either.

If paternity and legitimation has not been established through a voluntary acknowledgement process then a petition for paternity and legitimation can be filed any time after the birth of the child by the father. Such a petition can include claims for visitation, parenting time and/or custody of the child. Only the biological father can file a judicial petition for legitimation where he seeks legitimation of his child.

A mother can contest the legitimation petition by claiming that the man is not the biological father of the child or that he is unfit. The courts will make a determination based on what would be in the "best interests" of the child. Once legitimation is made by the court, then the father and child can enjoy the same rights and benefits as a child born in lawful wedlock. However, the father will not be authorized custody and visitation until after the courts make a judicial determination stating otherwise. The child will remain in the custody of the mother unless the courts make an order awarding custody or visitation to the father.

Experienced Representation in Gwinnett County & Lawrenceville

If you are a father who is seeking to legitimize your child, or if you are a mother who is seeking to contest a legitimation petition, then a Gwinnett County legitimation lawyer at Fox Firm, P.C. can help. The firm has helped numerous clients like you for more than a quarter century in the Gwinnett County area. They have extensive knowledge of the legal system and how it pertains to paternity and legitimation; therefore, the firm has the qualifications you need to assist you in the legal process. Fox Firm, P.C. can represent clients throughout Lawrenceville and Gwinnett County, plus he offers an initial consultation where they can offer you sound advice on how best to proceed forward!

To find out more about legitimation please contact a Gwinnett County legitimation lawyer from the firm today!

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