Legal Snack: My Name Is on the Birth Certificate But No Father’s Rights?

Family Matters Law Group is proud to offer Legal Snacks, bite-sized introductions to various family law topics that you can watch (and rewatch) any time. These short videos address topics that frequently arise in our practice and will help you understand the core issues in your case. This month, Edidiong Aaron addresses a question many fathers ask: “My name is on the birth certificate, so why don’t I have father’s rights?”  

The answer involves a legal procedure known as legitimation. Here’s Mrs. Aaron with some legal wisdom: 

Key Questions From This Legal Snack

In this video, Mrs. Aaron addressed some important questions related to this process and father’s rights, such as:

  • What is legitimation?
  • How can legitimation help a father gain some control in a custody situation?
  • How can an attorney help with a legitimation petition?

What Is Legitimation?

In the state of Georgia, to win father’s rights such as custody or even visitation, you must prove two things, paternity and legitimation. You proved paternity when you signed the birth certificate (i.e. you proved you were the biological father). Now, you have to prove to the court that you have a meaningful relationship with the child (legitimation).

If you were married when the child was born, you have already proven legitimation.

In a situation where the child was born out of wedlock, the mother has all the parental rights. She not only has the right to primary custody (where the child lives), but also legal custody (the ability to make the major decisions on behalf of the minor child).

Even though you fathered the child, in order to get a seat at the table when it comes to major decisions in the child’s life, you must prove that you play a significant role. Let’s be honest, proving you’re the father of a child qualifies you to help out financially. You need to be more than a cash cow to be placed in a position of heavy responsibility, as far as the courts are concerned.

Gaining a Measure of Control in a Custody Situation

No one wants to see a messy custody battle. It puts a heavy burden on both mother and father, as well as puts the child into the middle of a bad situation. Despite this, Family Matters Law Group knows it is all too common for a child to be used as a bargaining tool.

The mother of the child (who has all the custody rights) uses visitation with the child as leverage to get the father to pay extra money or buy something that the child may not necessarily need. Many fathers endure this because they want to see their child so bad.

Legitimation stops this from happening and gives the father a little bit more control over the situation. By petitioning the court, the father proves he is a significant part of the child’s life and is entitled to visitation and custody rights. Now, the child can’t be used as leverage, and a proper visitation schedule can be worked out.

An Attorney Can Help

A lot rides on a successful petition for legitimation. It’s important that you consult with a knowledgeable attorney who can help you present your best side to the court.

Mrs. Aaron has made these recommendations to clients who are petitioning the court for father’s rights:

  • Do your best to visit with your child regularly. Receiving joint physical custody is much easier when you already see your child on a regular basis.
  • Be active with your child, especially when it comes to doctor’s visits and school activities. Legal custody involves making decisions in areas such as healthcare and education, so you need to show an interest and be informed already.
  • Support the child financially. If the child needs clothes, shoes, diapers, etc., step up and help out.
  • Any agreement you have with your ex needs to be in writing. Make audio recordings of conversations.

As you can see, a successful petition to get father’s rights is very involved, and you need to make sure you take the right steps. An experienced, caring family law attorney can help you navigate this process.

Setting up a consultation with Edidiong Aaron at Family Matters Law Group is easy. Simply fill out the online contact form or call (678) 545-2118. Family Matters Law Group has helped many fathers in Henry, Clayton and Fayette counties, as well as across the Atlanta metro area. Mrs. Aaron would love to hear your story and will let you know how she can be of assistance in your fight to legitimize and be a part of your child’s life.