What Are a Father’s Rights in Georgia?

When it comes to a father’s rights in Georgia, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that if you are married, you and your spouse have equal rights to visitation and custody. The bad news is that, in Georgia, if you are not married, only the mother has automatic rights to visitation and custody. This is true even if you have been in a relationship for years or are currently living with the mother.

All is not lost, however. Unmarried fathers can fight for their rights by going through a legal process. Yes, it does take some time and you will need documentation to prove your case. However, you have a chance for success and that chance goes up even higher with the help of an experienced family law attorney.

In this article, Family Matters Law Group will walk you through the key steps you must take as an unmarried father to show the court you have a legitimate claim to be awarded visitation and custody rights.

Proving Paternity

Paternity refers to proving that you are the biological father of the child. The easiest way to do this is to sign an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” form at the hospital when the baby is born. You may also sign this form at any Vital Records Office at a later time. Understand, however, that if you do not sign this form, only the mother’s name will appear on the child’s birth certificate.

You can also petition the court for an involuntary paternity action, which would involve genetic testing to determine the actual parentage of the child.

Paternity establishes that you are the biological father and, while it does not immediately grant visitation or custody rights, does establish that you might be responsible for child support. If you want further rights, you need to jump through one more hoop.

Establishing Legitimation

Legitimation is the process by which you show that you have established a meaningful relationship with the child. Since Georgia places so much emphasis on marriage when it comes to visitation and custody, it is no surprise that the legitimation rules emphasize marriage as well.

You can prove legitimation in Georgia in the four following ways:

  • You can marry the mother before the child is born.
  • You can marry the mother after the child is born and recognize the child as yours.
  • You can legally adopt the child.
  • You can file for a legitimation action in court.

Once legitimation is established (in addition to paternity), it is possible for an unmarried father to petition the court for visitation and custody rights.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help

Unfortunately, the law in Georgia heavily favors the mother. That’s why you need an experienced family law attorney. At Family Matters Law Group, we are proud of our record of fighting for father’s rights in Georgia, and we’ve had a lot of success.

If you are a father fighting for your rights in Henry, Clayton, Fayette, or any other Atlanta metro county, we’d like to talk to you. Simply fill out our convenient online contact form and find out what we can do to help you.

Meta: Winning a father’s rights in Georgia, such as custody and visitation, is not easy. But, it can be done with the help of an experienced attorney. Learn more here.