Paternity and Legitimation

It is the legal obligation of all Georgia parents to support their children. Unfortunately, too many parents not only ignore the law ... they also ignore their children, often leaving them in dire straits. Fortunately, family law attorney Lynn Hamilton Johnson can help.

Georgia law provides two ways for recognizing a relationship between a father and a child -- paternity and legitimation. Georgia is one of only a few states that has the additional layer of legitimation as part of the process of establishing custodial rights.

A mother may file a paternity action to obtain a court order setting the amount and frequency of child support payments. A father may file a legitimation action to establish a legal relationship with his child. Such an order is critical to the parent-child relationship because the rights of a legal father are vastly different to that of a biological father.

In addition to being liable for child support, a legal father may obtain visitation or custody of the child, and can legally participate in the child’s upbringing.  Moreover, a legal father has superior rights should a step-parent or some other person seek to adopt his child.  Without a legitimation proceeding, a biological father could have no legal rights to his own child.

Fathers may administratively acknowledge their biological relationship with a child by completing paperwork at the hospital when a child is born or later at the Georgia Office of Vital Records. By the same token, legitimation van be voluntarily established.

If paternity and legitimation have not been established through the voluntary process, Lynn Hamilton Johnson, Warner Robins paternity lawyer, can file a petition for paternity and legitimation any time after the birth of a child, including claims for visitation, parenting time and custody. Once paternity and legitimation are established through either method, the father is legally liable for child support in the same manner as he would be if the child was born in a marriage.

Contact the Middle Georgia paternity law office of Lynn Hamilton Johnson today at 478-922-3889 for more information or to schedule an appointment.