CHILDREN NEED A FATHER
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.3 million children or 1 in 4, live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/11/the-two-extremes-of-fatherhood.html.
Extensive research has shown that when a child is raised in a father-absent home, he or she is more likely to be affected by poverty, behavioral problems, teen pregnancy, child abuse, substance abuse, incarceration, child obesity, crime, and more likely to drop out of school. www.fatherhood.org.
At the Parker Law Firm, we strongly believe that fathers are important to the development of their children and we stand ready to help you establish your legal rights if your child was born out of wedlock. Contact us at 770-246-1331 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ESTABLISHING LEGAL RIGHTS TO YOUR CHILD
All too often, when the mother and father have resided together following the birth of their child, and the parties subsequently separate, the father believes he has equal rights and access to the minor child, similar to what the mother has. Unfortunately, this is error thinking because he does not have automatic legal rights to his child.
In many states, when parents are unmarried and have a child together, the biological father may automatically have legal rights to the child by virtue of signing the birth record of the child. However, in the State of Georgia, the father must file a Petition for Legitimation. The unwed biological father MUST petition the Superior Court in the county of the residence of the child’s mother or other party having legal custody or guardianship of the child to establish his legal rights…O.C.G.A. § 19-7-22(b).
VISITATION, PARENTING TIME, AND CUSTODY
A legitimation petition may also include claims for visitation, parenting time, or custody. If such claims are raised in the legitimation action, the court may order, in addition to legitimation, visitation, parenting time, or custody based on the best interests of the child standard. O.C.G.A. 19-7-22(g).
If the father has not ‘willfully abandoned” his interest in his child prior to the legitimation action, the court will generally find that it is in the “best interest” of the minor child that the father’s petition be granted so that the father and child can have a parent-child relationship.
MOTHER HAS SOLE CUSTODY OF CHILD PRIOR TO LEGITIMATION
Only the mother of a child born out of wedlock is entitled to custody of the child, unless the father legitimates the child as provided in O.C.G.A. § 19-7-22. Otherwise, the mother may exercise ALL parental power over the child. O.C.G.A. § 19-7-25.
OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT
Although the father does not have any legal rights to his child, prior to a legitimation action, it is the joint and several duty of each parent to provide for the maintenance, protection, and education of his or her child until the child reaches the age of majority, dies, marries, or becomes emancipated, whichever first occurs… O.C.G.A. § 19-7-2.
It is generally in a child’s best interest to have a meaningful relationship with his/her natural parents. However, various situations can cause a complete disruption or a deterioration of the parent-child relationship. For example, if there have been incidents of domestic violence, or substance abuse by either parent, a court may create a visitation and/or custody plan to protect the child while allowing the parent-child relationship to be accomplished. O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3.
The Parker Law Firm has been a strong advocate for men’s rights for 25 years because we believe it is paramount that a father’s role in their children’s lives is equally important as that of the mother.
If you are being denied visitation with your child, contact the Parker Law Firm at 770-246-1331 or at email@example.com. We will ensure that your legal rights to co-parent your child are established and protected.