What Parental Rights Do Unwed Fathers Have?

father holding newborn baby
Jul 8, 2022 | Sara Khaki

Parenting is one of the most crucial, rewarding, and life-changing jobs a person can have. You get the opportunity to watch your child grow up and become a unique person; at least, that’s what every parent wants. If you have a child and are unmarried, it may not be easy to understand what rights you have as a parent in Georgia. We will go over your parental rights and what you can do to get the best outcome for you and your child.

Do I Have Any Parental Rights?

It can be challenging for unwed fathers to have equal access to their children in Georgia. When unmarried parents have a baby, it is decided that the mother has sole custody of the child. Paternity alone does not give the father visitation rights either; it only allows you to have your name on the birth certificate and can make you responsible for child support payments in the future.

Do not get discouraged yet; there are still a few ways for fathers to gain custody rights!

Legitimation Petition

Legitimation is a legal petition that unwed fathers can create to prove paternity and establish a legal relationship with their child. This petition is how they can obtain legal custody of their child and gain visitation rights. The petition must include the following information:

  • The child’s name, age, and sex;
  • The mother’s name; and
  • Any name changes the petitioner desires for the child.

If the father’s paternity is proved legitimate, then the court may grant them custody and visitation rights.

Attending Family Court

An alternative way that an unwed father can gain rights is by going to court and letting a judge make a determination based on what is “best for the child.” Many factors will be considered, including the father’s mental health, home stability, criminal history, and the relationship with the child. You will want to confirm that you have all of the necessary documents on hand and that you stay out of legal trouble in order to get the best court outcome.

If you need support in getting custody or visitation rights for your child, contact our team at Atlanta Divorce Law Group. Do not give up hope; getting parental rights can be a tedious and time-consuming process, but the relationship you could have with your child will all be worth it!


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