In Georgia, to have any legal rights to a child born out of wedlock, a father must get an order of legitimation.
A child is "born out of wedlock" if the child's parents
- were not married when the child was conceived,
- were not married when the child was born, and
- have not married since the child was born.
Without legitimation, a father has no right to custody or visitation for a child born out of wedlock. However, even without legitimation, the father is still legally required to support the child financially.
The ONLY way to legitimate a child is for the father to file a Petition for Legitimation with the courts. In the past, you could legitimate if both parents signed a voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form, but that is no longer allowed.
If the father does not have a legitimation order, they have no legal right to the child born out of wedlock EVEN IF he:
- Was named the father in a paternity test,
- Was ordered to pay child support,
- Signed the child's birth certificate, or
- Lives with the child’s mother.
Find a Petition for Legitimation at https://www.southernjudicialcircuit.com/selfhelp/paternity/legitimation.pdf.
The petition is usually filed in the Superior Court in the county where the mother lives.The mother must be formally notified and she has the right to attend the court hearing.
At the legitimation hearing the judge can also order child support, custody, or visitation.
Learn more at GeorgiaLegalaid.org