Based on prior experience, I'm going to predict that other lawyers will advise you to hire a lawyer rather than trying to do it yourself. (And they're right.)
If it were me, I'd want to know how old the child is, and some other details you have not included. (But no, just changing the last name isn't what you want, because that would entail trying to "notify" the father too!)
I'm in Savannah ... where the legal fees are lower than Atlanta, but then there are travel expenses, ... and you'd probably prefer having someone anyway.
If you want me to help you (either with the Petition or with finding an Atlanta lawyer), send me a message through Avvo.
Having spent a long, frustrating time against people who represented themeslves (and they were convinced they were great, even after the fight was decidedly over, and it was only when they had a judgment against them for fees that they stopped), I can tell you honestly that the procedure is far simpler with counsel involved - your arguments are advanced more efficiently, and it is a less difficult process. Competent counsel is a necessity in any contested adoption situation.
Look at my website, www.merlinusmonroe.com, for many of the answers to your questions about adoption law. As my colleague says, it is far more than just changing the child's last name, and you would still have to give notice under the law to the biological father for that, if his rights are still intact.
The information contained in this electronic communication and any documents or other files attached to and accompanying this transmission may contain information that is legally protected, including legally-privileged attorney-client confidential communications. The information contained in this electronic communication and any attachments thereto are intended only for the express attention of the recipient named above. The authorized recipient so identified is prohibited from disclosing this information to any other party unless expressly permitted to do so by law or regulation. If you are not the intended recipient of this electronic communication, you are hereby notified that any unauthorized use, disclosure, copying, or distribution of this information is strictly prohibited, and may give rise to legal sanctions. If you have received this information in error, please immediately notify Merlinus Monroe at 678-450-9743 and take action for the return or destruction of this communication. The website of Merlinus Goodman Monroe, LLC, and the receipt or use of information contained therein or accessed thereby is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship, nor does the act of sending an email to Merlinus Monroe or soliciting his opinion without a binding Attorney- Client Agreement in place create an attorney-client relationship. Users of this site should not act or refrain from acting based upon information obtained from the website without also seeking professional counsel and legal representation regarding the specific facts and circumstances at issue in their individual case. This user does not accept, nor may this e-mail address be used for, electronic transmission of service of pleadings or process. All pleadings and process must be served physically, by either personal service or by mail delivered to Post Office Box 2686, Gainesville, Georgia 30503.
There are mechanisms available for notifying an unknown father about an adoption proceeding and about a name change proceeding. In either event, whether you are trying to change the child's name only or trying to have your child adopted and the name changed, the father MUST be notified. (Note: the child's name can be changed as one of the outcomes from a successful adoption.) Failure to notify the father will ensure that your petition will be dismissed. Failure to do so correctly will ensure that your petition will be dismissed. (This is especially true when it comes to an adoption proceeding.)
You ABSOLUTELY should NEVER attempt an adoption without the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney! Step-parent adoptions are relatively simple, and therefore relatively inexpensive. (Most attorneys charge flat fees for such representation.) However, it is NOT the kind of "simple" that makes it conducive to being handled pro se. PLEASE HIRE AN ATTORNEY!
~ Kem Eyo
The above answer is a general explanation of legal rights and procedures. It does not constitute legal advice. Nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship between the individual posting the question and the attorney providing the answer.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline