Mothers' & Fathers' Rights

The rules for parental rights vary, depending on whether the parents are married.

In Georgia, if a child's mother and father are married, both parents have equal legal rights concerning that child. When parents are legally separated or in the process of divorcing and the issue of child custody is before the court, the court will use what's referred to as the best interests of the child (BIC) standard to determine physical and legal custody. The court will consider the relationship of the child with each parent and generally will not make a determination based solely on the gender of the parent.

Discuss Your Unique Situation With An Alpharetta-Based Attorney

Here are some common questions about unmarried parents' rights.

When a child is born out of wedlock, the mother automatically has sole legal custody and the father has no legal rights concerning that child.

What rights does an unmarried father have? The father has the right to petition the court to legitimize the child, but the mother can object and present the court with a defense, or series of reasons, why the child should not be legitimized by the father.

What if paternity is in doubt? Often, the mother will agree to paternity — in other words, admit the identity of the child's father. If not, the father can request a blood test.

Can a mother get child support payments from the father? Yes, the mother has the right to collect child support from the father once paternity has been established, whether or not the father has established any legal right to the child.

The courts handle the father's responsibility to support his child separately from the father's right or ability to have a physical or legal relationship with that child. So the father can be ordered by the court to pay child support to the mother, even though that father has no legal claim to custody and doesn't see the child.

Whether you're a father seeking to legitimize your child or a mother seeking to collect child support, it is critical that you have competent legal counsel.

Call Hecht Family Law in Alpharetta at 678-926-9234 to discuss your case and learn your rights. Attorney Ed Hecht will educate you about your rights and responsibilities and help you through your parental rights issue.