Paternity and Legitimation

Legal Counsel to Protect Your Rights in Georgia's Family Courts

A core responsibility of the court system is to ensure children's well-being in the form of proper emotional, financial and physical support.

To that end, Georgia has a process to establish parental rights and responsibilities when a child is born outside of marriage. While birth mothers are automatically granted certain rights and responsibilities by virtue of their having given birth, fathers and alleged fathers must navigate the legal system in order to establish their parental rights (or defend against accusations of fathering a child). Browning & Smith is one of Atlanta's highly respected family law firms, and our attorneys can help you do right by the children in your life while also protecting your own personal legal rights.

Learn More About the Legal Process

Courts refer to different legal claims based on which party is bringing an action:

  • Paternity is the legal action brought by a birth mother seeking legal recognition of a man as the father of her child. This allows the child to receive child support and in many cases results in the father receiving visitation rights as well. (Paternity is also the general term for legal fatherhood.)
  • Legitimation is the legal action brought by a man who wishes to assert his rights as a father or to prove that he is in fact not a child's father. Like paternity actions, these can result in both financial responsibilities and visitation rights.

Despite what many think, names on a birth certificate aren't the be-all, end-all in paternity matters. If a child is born outside of marriage, but a man is listed as the father on a birth certificate, the mother and would-be father must still go through the paternity or legitimation process to settle the issue of parental rights.

How can we help you protect your rights? You might be a mother who wants your child's father to pay child support, but have specific reasons for wanting a court to deny visitation. By the same token, if you're a father who wants to be more than simply the source of a support check, we can ensure that a court considers your case for visitation rights fairly. In all cases, we can also determine the necessity of undergoing DNA testing, and if so, which party should bear the financial burden.

Contact Our Marietta Offices

To speak with a lawyer about your rights and options, call 770-615-7235 or send an email.