What is “Legitimation”?
Legitimation is a legal action which is the only way, other than by marrying the mother of
a child, that the father of a child born in the State of Georgia may establish legal right to his child.
Who May File For Legitimation?
Typically the father of a child may file a petition seeking to legitimate his child.
What is the Legal Effect if Legitimation?
An order of legitimation creates a father and child relationship legally between the
petitioner and his child. An order of legitimation allows the legal father to be listed on the child’s birth certificate and is the only way that the father of a child born out of wedlock
can be recognized as the legal father of a child and therefore can petition for custody and/or visitation with the child. Without legitimation, a father can be obligated to pay child support without any right to see or have contact with his child.
How long will Legitimation take?
The length of time depends on the facts of your case. There are several options for what can happen with your case:
- If custody is not an issue, and there is no other father listed on the birth certificate, then an Order for Legitimation can be heard by a Judge. The length of time in this type of action depends on a number of factors, including the Judge to which the case is assigned, whether the opposing party objects to the legitmation, whether a DNA test is requested, as well as other factors which may be unique to any particular case..
- If the mother or another father is listed on the birth certificate, then the hearing cannot take place until after the publication is finished (60 days)
- If the mother or another father must be served by the sheriff with the Petition to Legitimate, then the case will be placed on a Judge’s calendar by his/her case manager.
- If custody is to be an issue, then you still file your legitimation first, and get the Order of Legitimation signed. Once the child has been legitimated by the Court then you may file another action for custody.
- Paternity may or may not be an issue in a legitimation action. Reasonably reliable and affordable DNA tests are now available to eliminate any doubt as to paternity, and some Judges may require a DNA test in a legimiation action, even where the parties are not contesting paternity.