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A unwed unemployed mother. Can the father get custody of my child?

Atlanta, GA |

We have live together a year before our 3 year old son was born. Now we are going our separate ways and he do not want to be on child support. He says that he is going to take our child because he shouldn't have to pay support and can buy things for him and do things for him.

I have been unemployed the whole time we live together for four years but have been to school. He feels that I trying to take money out of his pocket. He was ok with me keeping our child until I told him that he will have to help by paying child support which is more than he wants to give.

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You should file a petition for paternity. This sort of petition seeks to establish a parental link between your child and his father. The purpose of a paternity action is only to seek and obtain child support. If he is wise, he will seek a legitimation in response. This will seek to establish parental rights for him, such as visitation rights and possibly decision-making authority.

As I tell fathers in these situations, "She is seeking child support, which she will very likely get. Therefore, you ought to at least get something for your money - the right to see your child." Until he obtains a court order legitimizing his relationship, he is now and remains a "stranger to the child" in the eyes of the law. Under the law, right now he has as much right to see your child as I do.

Now, he may challenge that he is actually the father, despite your four year relationship. He may ask for a DNA test.

Another common tactic is to attempt to take your child from you. Once the legitimation occurs, and he is a legal parent, he has every right to attempt to obtain primary custody of your child. A judge will have to decide whether your child is better off in your care or his. Most judges see an attempt to take custody in order to avoid paying child support a mile away. Still, the factors to consider are many.

You ought to consult an attorney experienced in these matters. DHS is one option. if you are in Atlanta, there is also Atlanta Legal Aid. In Gwinnett County, there is Gwinnett Legal Aid. You may qualify for free or reduced cost legal assistance. I encourage you to look into these programs. Good luck.


Unless he has legitimated the child he has no right to take the child or even see the child. You have every right to make him pay child support, and should do so. Note that he can petition a court for legitimization but not paying support looks bad for him in such a case. Should he do so, you need a lawyer.

If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer). Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). I am happy to discuss possible representation with you. Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. Note that I am only licensed in Georgia and thus cannot practice in other states. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.


I agree with Mr. Ashman above. But I would add that in the event he does file an action for legitimation and custody, you would want to be in as stable an employment and housing situation as possible. So start right now trying to get a long term job and having you and your son living independently and in as nice a home environment as possible. If he files for legitimation, there is no question that you need to hire an attorney.


He has a duty under the law, all parents do, to support his child, even if he has not legitimated the child. Don't wait until he files to legitimate the child (which he many never do) to seek child support for your son. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can apply for assistance to collect child support through DHS, the Division of Child Support Services. Here is the website and contact information:

Application for Services:
Atlanta Division of Child Support Services (120)
1526 East Forrest Ave. Suite 300
East Point, GA 30344
Phone: 1-877-GA DHS GO (1-877-423-4746)
Fax 404-559-4245

Best of luck to you.

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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