Establishing Visitation Rights for Unmarried Fathers

It is a common misconception in Georgia that when a father signs the birth certificate, that father has legal rights to his child.  The fact is that when a father has a child born out of wedlock in Georgia, the father is legally obligated to pay child support for the upbringing of the child but has no rights to visitation or even access to the child’s medical or educational information.

For a father to establish their legal rights to the child including visitation, the father must legitimize and file a custody action in Court or marry the mother.

A father can legitimize his child one of three ways.

First, the mother and father can sign the Acknowledgement of Legitimation section of the State of Georgia Form 3940 before the child’s first birthday.  This voluntary Acknowledgement establishes that the child is legitimately the child of the father.  While the form legitimizes the child, the form does not establish any custody or visitation rights for the father and the father must still file an action with the court if the need for a formal order arises.

The second method by which a father can legitimize his child is by filing an action with the court requesting that the child be legitimized and that his custody and visitation rights be established.  Generally, this action is filed in the Superior Court of the county in which the child resides.  Through this court filed legitimation action, the court can grant the father’s request for legitimation, grant the father his legal custody rights and set out an enforceable visitation schedule for the father and child.

The third is method is for the father to marry the mother.  Of course, this is not an option for every father or even in the best interest of the child in some cases.

The legitimation process can be complex, especially if the mother is not willing to agree to the terms that the father  is seeking.  If you are in need of establishing your legitimation rights, contact Attorney Yolvondra Martin for your consultation.

The Martin Law Group | 404-248-4898 | ymartin@themartinlawgroup.com

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