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Wanda M. Strickland, Attorney at Law
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(229) 794-9344

Legitimation and Custody

Legitimation and Custody

In Georgia, if a man is not married to the mother of a child when the child is born, he must legitimate the child if he wants any legal rights as a father. According to state law, legitimation is the legal process whereby the father of a child born out of wedlock may establish his legal rights to the child. The father is the only one who can petition the court for legitimation.

Why go through the legitimation process?

Even if you are the biological father, and the mother agrees with you, without legitimation of your child born out of wedlock, you have no legal rights to the child nor does the child have any legal connection to you.

A few of the benefits to you include:

  • Obtaining visitation with your child if in the custody of the mother.
  • Possibly obtaining custody of the child if it is in the child’s best interest.
  • Being granted custody of the child if the mother, who has custody, is unable to care for the child.
  • If neither you nor the mother can take care of the child, legitimation allows a relative of yours the opportunity to win custody of the child.
  • Allows you to inherit from the child.

A few of the benefits to the child include:

  • The right to know who his or her father is.
  • Access to family medical history.
  • The right to inherit from the father.
  • The right to certain public benefits available to biological children.
  • The right to child support.

How is legitimation established?

If the mother and father are both unmarried, within a certain period of time after the birth, the father may either marry the mother, or sign and have notarized a document titled “Acknowledgment of Legitimation,” and file it with the State Office of Vital Records.

After one year has passed, the father must petition the court for legitimation. The mother must be given notice of the petition. A DNA test may be performed if necessary, but even if it definitively identifies the man as the biological father, the court may still deny the petition if it feels it is in the best interest of the child.

Call Strickland Law

At Strickland Law, founded by Wanda M. Strickland, we zealously represent you in your legitimation petition. We know the law and what steps to take to help you establish legal rights to your child. Call us at (229) 794-9344.  You may also fill out this form and we will call you to make an appointment for a free consultation. Our office is located in Valdosta and we serve Lowndes and surrounding South Georgia Counties.