Unwed fathers in Georgia should know that they have rights to establish and maintain custody of their child, as well as to participate in parenting decisions.
An unwed father has a right to establish paternity, which will legally recognize him as the child’s father. There are a few options to do this, however it is most often completed through a court order or by signing an acknowledgment form.
The mother and father can sign a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgment form, which is typically available at the hospital where the child is born. It can also be obtained from the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Office of Vital Records.
The father can also file a legitimation petition in the county where the child resides. This petition is specifically for unwed fathers, and it requests the court to establish that the petitioner is the child’s legal father. This grants the father legal rights and responsibilities for the child.
The father can also file a paternity action in court. The court may order a genetic test and if he is determined to be the child’s biological father, the court will issue an order establishing paternity.
After paternity is established, the father can request custody of the child or visitation. The court will review the request and make a decision that is in the best interest of the child.
He may also have a right to receive child support from the child’s mother if he has sole custody of the child or if he shares custody with her.
Also, once the father has legal custody of the child, he has the right to participate in major decisions about the child’s education, healthcare, religion and other important matters.