Experienced Atlanta Legitimation Attorneys

Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities


Secure Legal Advice Now

Legitimation allows a biological father to be recognized as the legal father with parental rights when the child(ren) is born to unwed parents. Only the biological father of the child(ren) can file a judicial petition seeking to legitimate his child.

In Georgia, legitimation must be established before a father can be granted any custody or visitation rights for his child(ren).


atlanta-legitimation-lawyer 1

Why is Legitimation Important?

Fathers who want to take an active role in their child(ren)’s life will want to establish legitimation. A biological father has no legal relationship with his child(ren) until a court issues an order declaring the child(ren) legitimate; and until that has occurred, Fathers cannot exercise custody or visitation rights, and cannot make any decisions on behalf of the child(ren).

If the father and mother of the child were never married, the mother is granted all custody and visitation rights under Georgia law. She can deny visitation even if the father is providing financial support for the child.

An order of legitimation allows the child(ren)’s biological father to be listed on the birth certificate as the legal father of the child(ren). It also establishes that the child(ren) will be able to inherit from their legal father and vice versa.

For same sex couples, with one partner giving birth to a child, there is a third party involved (e.g., birth mother, birth mother’s partner, and the biological father) additional steps may need to be taken to protect the rights of both parents.

Chambers Family Law is experienced at guiding fathers through legitimation actions so that legal rights are protected.

5-Star Reviews

“With his deep understanding of addiction Pete was able to show compassion and grace in his daily interactions with me. This is more than a job to Pete; he has a passion for helping those struggling and conquering this disease of addiction. I have my life back and I will be forever thankful to him.”

- Anonymous

“To say it was one of the best decisions of my life would be an understatement. Pete took all of the problems and complexities of that unfortunate event, solved them, and coached me along the way.”

- Dave G.

“Pete Chambers and his team helped me every step of the way through my divorce with expertise and compassion. He presented a strategy, he respected my wishes, all the while fierce and focused to secure the best outcome for me.“

- Sarah M.

“He was compassionate and knowledgeable about the disease of addiction which I found great comfort in. Pete was able to reach a settlement that was not only fair, but better than we had hoped for.”

- Andrea W.

“I am extremely grateful to Pete for his knowledge and experience not only of the law but also of my situation in early recovery from alcohol. Pete’s compassion allowed me to focus on myself while he dedicated himself to my divorce case.”

- Paula H.

What is the Legitimation Process in Georgia?

The legitimation process is not terribly complicated and involves filing a petition in the county of the residence of the child(ren)’s mother or other party who might have legal custody or guardianship of the child(ren). Both the child(ren)’s parents have equal standing to request custody once the legitimation order is granted.

Despite what most believe, there is no longer any legal presumption in favor of the mother. Some fathers have filed a petition for legitimation and were successful in obtaining primary custody.

The child’s mother will receive a formal notice since she has the right to attend court proceedings. Upon granting the petition for legitimation, the judge may order the father to pay child support to the child(ren)’s mother. The judge can also address other legitimation-related matters including custody and visitation decisions or changing the child(ren)’s last name.

We recommend the advice of experienced and knowledgeable Atlanta legitimation attorneys, like those here at Chambers Family Law, who can expertly guide you through this process.

Who Can File for Child Legitimation in Georgia

Only the biological father of a child can file a judicial petition seeking to legitimate his child(ren). Without legitimation, the only ways to establish legal paternity under current Georgia law are to marry the child(ren)’s mother before birth of the child or petition the courts for legitimation.

atlanta-legitimation-law-firm 1

Common Misconceptions About Legitimation

The following activities will not give you legitimation rights for your child(ren) who are born out of wedlock:

  • Signing your name as the child(ren)’s father on a birth certificate
  • Enrolling your child(ren) in school
  • Paying child support or other expenses incurred by or on behalf of the child(ren)
  • Getting a paternity test to confirm that you are the child(ren)’s father
  • Designating the child(ren) as beneficiary in your will

A verbal custody or parenting schedule arrangement between parents is non-enforceable by a court. Any agreement needs to be approved by a judge and made an order of the court to legitimate the child.

Chambers Family Law can assess your legitimation situation, inform you of current applicable laws and discuss how to help you gain full legal rights to your child(ren). We are compassionately committed to making the process as easy as possible so you and you can establish your parental and custodial rights.

Atlanta’s Best Legitimation Attorneys

Frequently Asked Questions About Legitimation

Under Georgia law, paternity determines and establishes who is the biological father and determines an amount of support to be paid by the father to the mother but does not establish the legal relationship between father and child(ren), nor does it provide any custodial or visitation rights to the father.

Paternity cases are not subject to a jury trial and the issue of paternity is solely for a judge to decide. In short, paternity is an action to establish a court ordered support obligation requiring the father to support the child(ren).

On the other hand, legitimation establishes and determines that the child(ren) is the legitimate offspring and heir of the father and provides for the father to have custodial rights and visitation or parenting time with the child(ren).

It depends. The length of time it takes to establish legitimation depends on the facts of your case. If custody is not an issue and there is no father listed on the birth certificate, and the mother agrees and acknowledges that you are the biological father, then the process can be reviewed by a judge and ordered quickly.

If any of the above is in question, there may be additional time required to sufficiently establish that the child(ren) is the legitimate offspring of the father, and to acquire an order from the court granting same.

If you are unsure you are the child(ren)’s biological father, you can request the court order a DNA test as part of your efforts to legitimate the child(ren).

Yes, and if you are unsure of paternity, genetic testing labs can offer “motherless” parentage testing.

Yes. The petition for legitimation is filed in the county where the child(ren)’s mother or guardian lives.

A legitimation petition may also be filed in the juvenile court of the county in which a deprivation proceeding for the child(ren) is pending, or in the county in which any pending adoption is filed.