As a father in Georgia, you have certain rights in regard to your children. This is true regardless of whether you and the mother were ever married. Similarly, your children have a right to expect financial support from you, among other things. We at McMahan, Perry & Phillips acknowledge both your rights as well as your children’s. Paternity and legitimation are ways of determining these rights in cases where there may be questions about the biological and/or legal relationship between you and your children. However, they are different processes with different goals. 

If your goal is to establish a legal relationship between you and your children, you may need to go through a legitimacy process. Paternity, on the other hand, establishes who a child’s biological father is. As the presumed father, you are the only one who has the right to initiate legitimacy proceedings. However, anyone with an interest in determining the biological father of a child can pursue paternity proceedings. Such interested parties may include the mother, a child, the Department of Human Services and/or family members providing care for the children. 

You can become eligible for child custody or visitation by claiming legitimacy successfully. However, paternity has different legal implications. The court can order you to pay child support to the party or parties responsible for caring for the child, whether this is the mother or someone else, when paternity proceedings establish that you are the biological father. Nevertheless, merely establishing paternity does not necessarily give you the right to see your children and spend time with them. 

You may be able to strengthen the bonds between you and your children by formalizing your relationship with them. More information about paternity and legitimation is available on our website.