What is the Legal Definition of Father in Georgia?

The word father can have different meanings to different people depending on their background. It can mean the man who has a biological connection to his children or the man who raises a child even if they don’t have a biological relationship. In Georgia, the law assumes that a child’s biological father is the one who impregnated the child’s mother, resulting in childbirth.

Georgia laws also recognize legal fathers, who may not necessarily be the child’s biological father. If you’re going through a contested divorce and have a child support battle, your chances of winning the battle depend on your fatherhood status. Skilled family law attorneys in Alpharetta can help you establish your father’s rights for a favorable outcome.

Legal Fathers

Legal father refers to a man who did one of the following:

  • Legally adopted the child
  • He was married to the child’s mother at the time the child was conceived or born, which makes him the presumed father unless a paternity test disproves the status
  • He was married to the child’s mother after childbirth and recognized the child as his own
  • Legitimated the child

Your child support battle could be marred with legitimacy issues. Experienced child support lawyers in Alpharetta can help you take the necessary steps to protect your rights.

What Are Fathers’ Child Support Rights in Georgia?

In Georgia, if a child’s father and mother are married to each other, they have equal rights as parents. If the parents are unmarried, the law stipulates that only the child’s biological mother has legal and physical custody rights to the child. If you’re a father who was never married to your child’s mother, both of you may voluntarily agree and consent to legitimation.

That happens by completing an acknowledgment of legitimation before the child’s first birthday. If the mother doesn’t agree to legitimation, you must file a judicial petition seeking legitimation in the county where the child’s mother resides. Once the proceedings are initiated in court, you and the child’s mother will present evidence that helps the court determine whether legitimation is appropriate.

The aim is to determine whether you’re a fit parent as a father to obtain rights to the child. The process also enables the court to decide whether legitimation will be in the best interest of the child. If you are concerned about legitimation in your child custody and support case, talk to fathers’ rights advocate in Alpharetta and let them guide you appropriately.

What is the Impact of Legitimation on Child Support?

Child custody and support determination in Georgia revolve around legitimation, among other issues. Before legitimation, the child’s mother has the right to the child’s custody, and she may exercise all parental control.

As a father, you have no legally recognized connection with the child, and you may not make legal decisions concerning them. However, in your petition for legitimation, you may include claims of child custody, support, and parenting time.

Courts in Georgia can issue temporary child support as the outcome of a legitimation case is pending. If one parent provides clear and convincing evidence of legitimation upon filing an initial complaint, the court can issue temporary child support. Once legitimation is determined, the payments will go to the petitioner.

How Can I Establish My Rights in Child Custody and Support?

If your child custody and support case involves establishing legitimation, you must do so promptly. If you delay legitimating your child for over a year, the court may determine the delay was unreasonable. It may rule that you abandoned your opportunity to cultivate a bond with your child and may deny your petition for legitimation.

What is the Difference Between Paternity and Legitimation?

In talking about legitimation, it’s also crucial to mention paternity and how they differ. Paternity is the biological fatherhood of a child, which is usually established through a DNA test. However, establishing paternity doesn’t automatically grant you legal fatherhood of the child, and you have to complete the process of legitimation to claim parental rights and responsibilities.

Child Custody and Support Based on Fatherhood in Georgia

In Georgia, fathers and mothers have equal rights and legal footing when fighting child support and custody battles. However, your chances as a father are slimmer if you don’t legitimize your fatherhood.

Even after legitimization, being granted custody depends on whether you successfully show the court that the order will be in the child’s best interests. Judges will consider factors such as the following:

  • Your relationship with the child.
  • Your mental health.
  • Any evidence of drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Your ability to provide a stable home for the child.
  • Whether you have been a perpetrator of domestic or child abuse in the past.
  • The child’s preference, depending on their age (14 years in Georgia).
  • Any other relevant factors.

However, even if you don’t legitimize a child, you are required to pay financial support for child rearing if you’re the biological father. That often happens if the child’s mother goes to court seeking child support and positively identifies you as the biological father.

A Skilled Family Lawyer Helping You Assert Your Rights in Child Custody and Support Case

Fighting for your parental rights as a father can be an uphill task in child custody and support cases. You can be at a disadvantage if you’re unmarried to your child’s mother and don’t legitimize your fatherhood. However, having the legal advice of skilled family law lawyers in Alpharetta can make it easier for you to navigate the situation.

If you are a father concerned about your parental rights in Alpharetta and the surrounding areas, the child support attorneys at Hecht Family Law can help you. We have effectively fought for fathers’ rights in child custody, support, paternity, and legitimacy cases and can do the same for you. Call us at (470) 291-5342 to schedule a FREE case evaluation.