What is the Legitimation Process?
If a child is born out of wedlock, the child's father must file a legitimation action gain rights to their child. It does not matter if the father's name is on the birth certificate. In Georgia, a biological father of a child may become the child's legal father or legitimate the child by filing a petition for legitimation. Filing the petition is the first step that begins the process of legitimation. Below we will go into more detail regarding the process and procedure for legitimation. Check out our page on legitimation to learn more about legitimation generally.
The Legitimation Process Step by Step
File the Legitimation Petition
In order to initiate a legitimation action by filing a petition for legitimation, the biological father must generally file the petition in the Superior Court located in the county where the child's mother resides or in the county where the child's legal custodian or guardian resides.
What Goes in a Legitimation Petition Form?
In his petition for legitimation, the biological father must list the name, gender and age of the child, the name of the child's mother, and the last name the biological father would like the child to take - if the father desires for the child to take his last name. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-22(b). In a legitimation action, the child's mother or legal guardian would be the respondent or defendant in the action, and just as with other civil actions, the respondent must be served personally with the petition for legitimation.
Legitimate in a Timely Manner
It is important for any father who wishes to legitimate his child to do so within a timely manner in order to avoid any possible complications in the legitimation process. Waiting too long to legitimate your child may sometimes raise questions about whether or not the father really wants to be involved in their child's life.
Legitimation Hearing & Best Interests
If the petition has been filed and the legitimation is contested by the child's mother, you will likely have to resolve the matter before a judge in a hearing. Although a biological father has the right to petition the court for legitimation, the biological father does not have the absolute right to have his petition granted by the judge. In fact, if the court finds the biological father unfit or finds that it would not be in the child's best interests to legitimate the child, the court must deny the father's petition.