Legitmation of Minor Child

40 percent of children are born out of wedlock, up from 28 percent in 1990. https://www.childtrends.org/publications/dramatic-increase-in-percentage-of-births-outside-marriage-among-whites-hispanics-and-women-with-higher-education-levels#:~:text=Recent%20estimates%20show%20that%20about,worldwide%20(Chamie%2C%202017).

Fathers have an “opportunity interest” in claiming their custodial rights to a child born out wedlock. This means that a Father must avail himself of the responsibilities of parenthood in some manner within a reasonable period of time. O.C.G.A. 19-7-22 provides Georgia law in regard to Legitimations. https://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2020/title-19/chapter-7/article-2/section-19-7-22/

As 40 precent of children are born out of wedlock, Superior Court Judges deal with legitimation custody cases often. Generally speaking, if a man is biologically the father and has made some effort to assert his parenthood, a legitimation should be granted. Until a child is legitimatized, the mother has sole custody of the child and may allow, or not allow, contact with the father as she sees fit. Upon legitimation, the Court will determine all custody rights as if in a divorce proceeding, ie: what is in the best interest of the child.

If you are the father of a child born out of wedlock, seek your legitimation as soon as possible. If a mother is denying you contact and you don’t seek a legal remedy, you could potentially lose your right to seek custodial rights. In a basic way, if you seek custodial rights of a newborn child it is much more likely to be granted than if you wait until the child is older, such as a 14 year old child. Document all efforts you have made to be father and document all efforts you have made to support the child.

If you are the mother of a child born out of wedlock, you have sole custody of the child and can do what you want in regards to the father’s contact with the child. Simply put, he does not have the right to dictate his custodial rights. However, I would encourage you to allow reasonable contact under reasonable conditions as the Court will consider this in determining custody. Like you, the Court simply wants what is best for the child.