Having a baby is an exciting time for parents but having a baby when the parents are unwed can become difficult especially for the biological father. A child born to unmarried parents does not mean that the biological father is considered the legal father. The father must establish a legal relationship with the child before being acknowledged to have parental rights. In unwed instances, mothers over the years have been viewed as the primary caregiver; however, fathers are an integral part of a child’s growth and development. The state of Georgia has two levels of a relationship between a father and child born to unwed parents. They are paternity and legitimation. If you need answers to your paternity questions or want to know your paternity rights, the family law attorneys at Shepard, Plunkett & Hamilton, LLP, are a phone call away.
According to NOLO, establishing paternity is the legal process used by the court to determine the child’s biological father. Paternity means “the state of being a father.” It is important to establish a father’s paternity as soon as the baby is born. Until the father has paternity rights determined by the court, he will not have any rights or responsibilities to the child. NOLO states that the best way to establish the father’s paternity is naming him on the birth certificate. States must offer unwed parents the opportunity to establish paternity by voluntarily signing an acknowledgment of paternity at the hospital or later under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulations. A father can establish paternity in writing through an affidavit of parentage or both parents can agree to paternity. Both the mother and father are legally responsible to support their child.
Legitimation is where the father can establish the legal rights of a child. As NOLO explains, establishing paternity gives the court the ability to force a father’s duty to pay child support, while legitimation gives the father rights to petition for custody and visitation, as well as, child support obligations provided to the mother. Without legitimation, only the unwed mother has custody rights.
At the office of Shepard, Plunkett & Hamilton, LLP, in Augusta, the family law attorneys can help establish your paternity rights and work to establish paternity and legitimation. Call them today for an initial consultation to discuss your rights.
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