Kind of a Halloween pondering on Legitimation, it seems, from our Marietta
and Atlanta divorce attorney, Megan McClinton.
One night early in the zombie apocalypse universe of The Walking Dead,
Shane, the best friend and police partner to our anti-hero Rick Grimes,
has an extra marital affair with Rick's wife Lori while the government
bombs a zombie-infested Atlanta.
Shane and Lori were a part of the same camp, taking refuge with each other
after Shane falsely tells Lori that Rick is dead. However, once Lori finds
out that Rick is alive and Rick joins their camp, Lori immediately breaks
things off with Shane to be with her husband.
Well, long story short, we find out later that Lori is pregnant. Of course.
But who's the father to Lori's baby? Is it Shane, her illicit
lover, or is it Rick, whom she reunited with a month after the zombie
apocalypse destroyed civilization?
This is a question we're still left wondering, even after Rick kills
Shane in Season 2 and Lori dies during childbirth in Season 3. We're
now in Season 6 and Rick has been raising baby Judith as his own, with
the help of his group, guarding her from the perils of zombies and other
strange people. Even though he'll probably never know if Judith is
biologically his daughter, Rick has risked his life to love and keep Judith safe.
Every time baby Judith appears on screen,
I wonder about legitimation in the world of The Walking Dead. And as a family law attorney, I of course
start pondering: What are Rick's legal options? (Such is my life.)
In Georgia, a child like Judith that's the "issue" of an
affair of the wife during wedlock is NOT legitimated to the lover. She
is the child of the husband and therefore a child of the marriage. Because
she is born to married parents, she's presumed to be Rick's child
- a presumption that Shane would have to rebut.
A likely scenario would be Shane wanting access to Judith as his child.
Shane would need to file a paternity action and seek a court order for
Lori, himself, and Judith to have genetic testing to prove paternity.
He would also need to provide a sworn statement alleging paternity and
set forth the facts establishing his affair with Lori. Lori would have
to show good cause not to submit to the genetic testing, which is enforceable
by contempt. If she had good cause, she could request that the paternity
action be dismissed.
Shane proving his paternity of Judith means that Shane could then request
legitimation of Judith as his daughter. But first he would have to terminate
Rick's parental rights. No easy feat even when there isn't a zombie
apocalypse in your neighborhood.
Legitimation brings parental rights with it, such as visitation and/or
custody (legal and physical), and Judith could inherit from Shane, if
he could ever get rid of Rick. If Shane hadn't gone nutty and died
in Season 2 (By "Corrrral" no less), I have no doubt that there
would have been a fight over Judith. Probably not in court, though.
But let's be real - we all know that "Lil' Asskicker"
is 100% Rick Grime's baby girl. Duh.