In the State of Georgia, if a child is born out of wedlock, a sure right a father has to his child is the right of paying child support.  Not legitimating could effect your child’s ability to inherit under you if you passed away intestate.  In order for a father to have legal rights to his child, the father must undergo a legal process called “legitimation.”

It is important for fathers to seek legitimation because prior to the legitimation of a child born out of wedlock, the mother is entitled to custody of the child, exclusive of the father, and she may exercise all parental authority concerning decisions affecting the child.  Essentially, before a father legitimates his child, he has no legally recognized relationship with the child, and he may not legally make decisions on behalf of the child, obtain custody or exercise visitation. But, in his Petition for Legitimation, a father may include claims for visitation, parenting time or child custody. If a father chooses to assert these claims, the court presiding over the matter may grant the father these rights upon a finding that legitimation is appropriate.  Legitimation is also important because prior to legitimation, a child has no legal right to inherit from his/her father, and his/her father has no legal right to inherit from her.


Once a father initiates an action for legitimation, the court presiding over the matter will hear evidence by both parties to determine whether legitimation is appropriate. A court evaluates whether legitimation is appropriate by determining whether the father may be a fit parent or whether legitimation will be in the best interest of the child involved.

If you are a father seeking to legally establish your relationship with your child or children, it is important that you do so in a timely manner. If you delay in legitimating your child or children and a court subsequently determines that this delay was unreasonable, the court may find that that you have abandoned your opportunity to develop a relationship with your child. If a court makes this finding, it may deny your petition for legitimation. In some circumstances, a delay of over a year may be deemed by a court as unreasonable.


Pasley, Nuce, Mallory & Davis, LLC, has attorneys with the experience and knowledge to help guide you through the legitimation process.  Contact any of our 4 office locations for a free initial consultation, and find out how we can put our experience and knowledge to work for you.