Legitimation in Georgia

What is a "legitimation" and who can file for it?

Other than by marrying the mother of a child, legitimation is the only way that the father of a child born in the State of Georgia may establish legal rights to his child. Only the father of a child may file a petition seeking to legitimate his child.

What is the legal effect of legitimation?

What is the legal effect of legitimation?

An order of legitimation:

  • Creates a father and child relationship legally between the petitioner and his child.
  • Establishes that the child may inherit from this legal father and vice versa.
  • Allows the legal father to be listed on the child's birth certificate as such.
  • Is the only way that the father of a child born out of wedlock can be recognized as the legal father of a child and therefore can petition for custody and/or visitation with this child.

If custody is to be an issue, the father must still file a legitimation first, and get the Order of Legitimation signed. Once the child has been legitimated by the Court Order then the father may file another action for custody. The exception to this rule is if the mother is deceased, there is no other legal parent or guardian, or the mother consents to custody. If a father is already listed on the child's birth certificate as the father, but couple was not married to each other, the father must still file a petition with the court to legitimate your child.

Where should the petition be filed?

The Petition for Legitimation may be filed in the father's county of residence, the child's county of residence, or if there is an adoption pending, in the county where the adoption was filed. If custody is requested, and the father wants to use these forms, the mother must consent, and the Petition to Legitimate must be filed in her county of residence. An exception to this rule occurs when the mother consents and waives jurisdiction (that is, she states in a notarized written statement that it is fine to file your case in your county of residence). A second exception is if the mother of the child is deceased and there is no other legal custodian or guardian of the child.

How long does it take?

If custody is not an issue, and there is no other father listed on the birth certificate, then an Order for Legitimation can be heard by a Judge on the same day that it is filed and the Order for Legitimation may be signed on the same day. If the mother or another father listed on the birth certificate must be served by publication, then the hearing cannot take place until after the publication is finished (60 days).

​For more information call the Law Office of Alex M. Brown at 706-447-6994 to determine the best course of action for your situation!