Having a baby is a joyous time in a parent’s life. Bringing a new baby into the world is often one of the greatest accomplishments a person has in his or her lifetime. If you are an unmarried father, then you need to make sure that your rights are put into place as soon as possible and signing the birth certificate in Georgia will not do that for you.

Many men assume that putting their name on the birth certificate automatically establishes their paternal rights, but it does not. The Superior Court of Fulton County explains you have to establish paternity through legitimation, which is the only way for an unmarried father to do this. If you are married, then you are automatically the legal father of the child, even if it is not your child.

Legitimation requires filing a petition with the county court in which the mother lives. You must pay a filing fee, and you may pay a service fee to have the paperwork delivered to the mother. The process will take time to complete, so you should begin it as soon as possible. How long it takes usually depends on the county and the caseload of the court.

Once you have established legitimation, you can request visitation and go to court regarding custody. You will also have to pay child support. You get all the legal rights to the child as well, which enables you to be in his or her life and to gain custody should the mother pass away. This information is for education and is not legal advice.