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What rights does a father who signed the birth certificate have if he is not married to the mother?

Danielsville, GA |

I am the mother of the child and the father comes to see his cgild when he feels like it, although I call him almost daily, to see her. He smokes, does drugs and is bipolar and is now demanding I bring his kid over when he wants me too. I know I have more rights than him, but I want to be certain what those are and how to protect them. Our daughter is 2 mos old.

Attorney Answers 2


Only a mother of the child born out of wedlock is entitled to custod of the child, unless the
father legitimates the child pursuant to O.C.G.A. §19-7-22. However, the putative father possesses an "opportunity interest"in developing a relationship with his child through the legitimation process. His opportunity interest begins at conception and lasts until the child reaches the age of majority; however, that interest may be deemed abandoned.

Signing the birth certificate is not sufficient to legitimate your child. However, the appearance of the father's name or social security account number, entered with his written consent, on the birth certificate constitutes "prima-facie" evidence of his paternity (although it does not sound as if he is disputing his paternity).

There is a difference in paternity and legitimation. The former has to do with the father's biological tie to the child, while the later - legitimation- has to do with the father's legal relationship to the child.

Prior to her first birthday, a father of a child born out of wedlock may render his relationship with the child legitimate when both he and the mother freely agree, consent, and sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and legitimation which are not rescinded.

If your child is more than 1 year of age and the father did not sign an acknowledgement of paternity and legitimation, then he can still render his relationship with his child legitimate by petitioning the superior court of the county in which you reside. His petition for legitimation may also include claims for parenting time or custody.

In the interim, you can file a petition for paternity and child support, about which you should consult with an attorney in your area.

This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as nor does it constitute legal advice. This answer does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Do not rely on this answer in prosecuting or defending against any criminal or civil legal action. Speak to an attorney in your area about how to protect yourself and your interests.

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Until and unless he legitimizes the child he has no rights to see the child or do anything with the child (he does however have an obligation to support the child). At this point, the decision as to if he sees the child at all are solely yours, and you should get him under a child support order (the cheapest and easiest way is using the state child support office).

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