Douglas W. Lewis, Lawrenceville Attorney – Gwinnett Legitimation, Paternity, Divorce, Custody, and Family Law
GWINNETT LEGITIMATION ATTORNEY – 11 ESSENTIAL THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT LEGITIMATION IN GEORGIA
This is the first of a five-part series regarding the 11 Essential Things You Should Know About Legitimation in Georgia
Recent studies have shown that among women under thirty years old, more than one-half of all babies are now born outside of marriage. That means with the new year fast approaching, it is now more likely that the first baby born at Gwinnett Medical Center to a mother under thirty years of age will be born out of wedlock.
Family law attorneys in Gwinnett County are receiving an ever- increasing number of inquiries concerning legitimation and paternity issues in general, and the rights of the biological father of a child born out of wedlock in particular.
This following list covers 11 Essential Things You Should Know About Legitimation in Georgia which are also the main subjects of the most frequently asked questions regarding legitimation:
1. When a child is born out of wedlock the biological father has no visitation or custody rights to the child unless the father legally legitimates the child
Georgia law provides that the mother of a child born out of wedlock is entitled to custody of the child and that she exercises all parental power over the child unless the biological father legitimates the child. (O.C.G.A. Section 19-7-25).
Unless, and until, the biological father legitimates (or ‘legitimizes') the child he has no rights of visitation or custody to the child. In Gwinnett County and across the metro-Atlanta area, it is not an uncommon situation to have the parents of a child born out of wedlock get along just fine after the child's birth, but soon thereafter the relationship begins to quickly deteriorate and the mother no longer wants the biological father around the child. The question is often asked whether the mother of a child born out of wedlock can unilaterally terminate or restrict contact between the biological father and the child if the child has not been legitimated, and the answer is yes. Even if the mother has allowed a relationship to develop between the biological father and the child the mother can still cease all contact and communication if the child has not been legally legitimated by the father.
2. When a child is born out of wedlock the biological father's name will not be placed on the birth certificate at the time of the child's birth unless the father signs a Paternity Acknowledgment Form
If the mother was not married at conception, birth, or any time in between, Georgia law requires that the last name of a child born out of wedlock be the same as the mother's legal last name on the birth certificate unless a s timely executed by the biological father. If a is properly signed, then the mother and the father may decide how the child's last name will appear on the birth certificate (Certificate of Live Birth).
The name of the biological father cannot be put on the child's birth certificate unless the father properly and timely executes the Paternity Acknowledgment form.
If the mother is married at the time of the child's birth then the husband's name must appear on the child's birth certificate (O.C.G.A. Section 31-10-9). The mother cannot sign a Paternity Acknowledgment form if she is married and her husband is not the biological father of the child.
As an aside, if a mother chooses not to provide a name for her child before she is released from the hospital then the child's birth certificate will only show a last name for the child which must be the same as the mother's last name.
In order to complete a Paternity Acknowledgment form, the biological father must provide the hospital birth record clerk with a valid government-issued picture identification card such as a valid driver's license or passport. The Paternity Acknowledgment form must be properly signed by both parents of the child.
Georgia law does allow for a specific period of time in which the Paternity Acknowledgment can be rescinded.
If you or a family member or a friend have any questions about what happens when a child is born out of wedlock in Gwinnett County, or in any other County in the metro-Atlanta area including Cobb, Dekalb, Fulton, Walton, Barrow, Hall and Forsyth counties, then please do not hesitate to immediately call attorney Doug Lewis at 770-682-3765 for a free initial telephone consultation.
Lawrenceville Attorney Douglas W. Lewis has over twenty years of experience in Gwinnett County and the Atlanta Metro area handling divorce, legitimation, paternity and child custody cases, family law cases, personal injury cases, criminal defense, civil litigation cases and estate planning matters. If you have any questions please call the Lawrenceville office for a free initial phone consultation or to schedule an office consultation. You can contact attorney Doug Lewis by telephone at 770-682-3765, via email. Client reviews can be found on Mr. Lewis' Google page, Avvo page, and on his website.