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What are paternity and legitimation?

The relationship between a father and child is special. When a child is born outside of a marriage, the family may look to establish paternity or legitimation for different reasons. Fathers may seek legal rights of their children so that they can help make vital decisions regarding their child. They may seek visitation and want to support their children. Mother’s may want to secure child support to assist their children.

Who can file?

A petition to establish paternity can be filed by a number of parties. The father or mother could file. If the child is placed in the care of a relative, then that relative may file the petition. In turn, the parents may be ordered to go through genetic testing. Legitimation may only be filed by the child’s biological father.

If paternity has been filed and established, does a petition for legitmation need filed?

If the child’s father has gone through genetic testing and is proved to be the biological father, he may still want to file for legitimation. Paternity only establishes the fact that the father is biologically the dad of the child. In order to have legal rights, the father will want to file for legitimation.

Does a legitimation petition need to be filed to pursue child support?

Under Georgia law, if paternity is established, child support can be enforced. If paternity has been established, but legitimation has not, then the father will have to pay child support. The father will not have other legal rights.

What should fathers do?

Fathers will want to establish both paternity and legitmation in order to have legal rights concerning the child. With legitimation established, dads can be involved in child custody, visitation, naming and other important aspects of their child’s life. Fathers should seek legal counsel to help establish paternity and legitmation.

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