Under the current law in Georgia, there are two ways that you can legitimate a child that has been born out of wedlock. The first is when the recognized parents of the child get married after the child’s birth, and the second is when the father of the child petitions the superior court to legitimate the child in question. While an illegitimate child still has rights, the father will gain rights by legitimizing the child. 

There are typically two components to legitimation. The first is legitimating the child as the child’s father, and the second is the father securing physical and legal custody rights to said child. There are several steps in the legitimation process.

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How to Legitimize a Child in Georgia

In Georgia, a father must legitimate a child before legal or physical custodial rights to the child will be granted. There are several factors that the court will consider during the legitimation process, these include:

  • The child’s paternity.
  • The child’s best interests.
  • The relationship between the child and father.
  • The fitness of the father.
  • Whether or not the mother is consenting to legitimation. 

The judge will take these factors into the entire picture of the child: mother’s and father’s life, and in most counties, the court will order the legitimation if they get consent from the mother. If the mother refuses to consent, the court will have to focus on other factors.

What happens after legitimation?

Once a father has been declared the legal father of a child by Georgia courts, he may ask the court for physical and legal custodial rights. The child will also then be able to inherit from the father. Also, at this point, the father may be ordered to pay child support if an order is not already in place.
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Custody of the Child After Legitimation

After a Petition for Legitimation has been granted, the next step is determining the child’s physical and legal custody. In some instances, the father may be granted primary physical custody of the child, and in others, the mother will retain her primary physical custody. Some cases award the parents joint, or equal, custody of the child. This is more likely in Metro Atlanta counties and Fulton counties as they’re more progressive than other counties in the state. 

The decision of custody arrangements will have a lasting impact on the child and the parents’ lives. Before an agreement is made, it’s essential to consider where you see yourself in the future and what you see for your child. Each case is different, and the help of an experienced attorney can help you get the custody arrangements that are best for the child.


Now that you have taken the time to educate yourself on who we are, it’s time to focus on how to move forward in your case. Contact us via phone or the contact form to schedule your comprehensive one-hour consultation. Be sure to have available, all relevant information and details about your case when you contact Family Matters Law Group so that we can provide you with an exceptionally personalized experience.