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If the parents of a child are married at the time of the child’s birth, they are the child’s legal mother and father. Therefore, they have equal rights to custody and visitation with the child. If a child is born out of wedlock, however, only the child’s mother has any custody rights to the child. The mother does not have to give the father any information about the child or allow the father to see the child. A father or mother must take some steps to legitimate or establish paternity for the child before a father can have any rights to the child, including custody or visitation.

Under Georgia law, a mother and father who agree to legitimate a child can sign a joint voluntary acknowledgment of legitimation or paternity at the hospital where the child is born or at the state or county office of vital records. This action not only places the father’s name on the birth certificate, but it gives the father some legal rights as far as the child is concerned. If the mother is not cooperative in signing a voluntary legitimation, however, the father can file a legitimation action in court, and also ask for custody and visitation rights to the child.

Simply having one’s name listed as the father on a child’s birth certificate does not legitimate or establish paternity for the child. It also does not give the father any legal custody or visitation rights. Likewise, a court order that requires a father to pay child support for a child does not give the father any rights to custody or visitation with the child. Only the legitimation or paternity establishment process can give the child’s father any legal rights to the child, including custody and visitation.

A Georgia legitimation attorney at Shaw Law Firm LLC can help advise you about your rights as an unmarried father, and what steps you can take to obtain those important legal rights. Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.