Legitimation & Paternity
Paternity and Legitimation suits are flip sides of the same coin. Georgia law establishes two distinct levels of a father-child relationship for a child born outside of a marriage: paternity and legitimation. Paternity establishes the right of the child to receive child support from the father only. Legitimation goes a step further and gives the father legal rights to the child, including the right to custody, visitation, and to have the child’s last name changed. Before the legitimation is filed, in Georgia, the father of a child born outside of a marriage has NO legal rights to the child: no right for visitation, no right for parenting time, no right to see the child at all. This is true even if the father is on the child’s birth certificate, and even if the father signed a paternity acknowledgment when the child was born.
A legitimation suit may only be brought by the biological father of a child born out of wedlock. A paternity suit may be brought by the child, the mother, the alleged father, a state agency, or an individual with whom the child has been placed.