Gainesville Paternity Lawyer Represents Clients in Parentage Matters

Knowledgeable attorney advises Georgians residents on legitimation proceedings

When a child is born to unmarried parents, legal steps must be taken for a court to include the father in orders concerning custody, visitation and child support. There are two distinct elements of this process under Georgia law, paternity and legitimation. At The Brownell Law Office in Gainesville, our experienced attorney handles a full range of matters relating to legal fatherhood. We represent clients seeking to establish and disclaim parentage throughout Hall, Lumpkin, Dawson, White, Habersham, Banks, Jackson, Barrow and Forsyth counties.

What is paternal legitimation?

In Georgia, a paternity order establishes that a man is the biological father of a child. However, it does not establish a legal relationship between the father and child. In order to seek custody and visitation, you must petition for legitimation, which means you are the child’s legal father. Our family law attorney can assist you with the legal requirements associated with paternity and legitimation so that you can be a strong influence in your child’s life. It is extremely important that legitimation be done as soon as possible after the child's birth. If the father waits too long, he may be denied legitimation based solely on his delay

How is paternity and legitimation established?

Only biological fathers can file for legitimation, so paternity must first be established either voluntarily by the parents or through a court order. If a man disputes that he fathered a child, a mother seeking child support usually goes to court where paternity is determined through DNA testing. In other cases, both parents consent to legitimation. Otherwise, you must file a petition for legitimation with the court and have it served on the mother. A hearing will be held in which a judge will decide if legitimation is in the child’s best interests. We will help you prepare the petition and advocate for you in the hearing.  

What rights and responsibilities come with paternal legitimation?

With legal fatherhood comes both rights and responsibilities. Once a paternity order is existed, the father has an obligation to pay child support. Upon legitimation, the father can seek the legal authority to contribute to decisions related to his child’s education, medical care, religious faith and other important matters. Legitimation also allows you to apply for an order that ensures you have time with your child, either through joint or sole custody, or visitation according to a parenting time schedule.  

How are child custody decisions made?

As the legitimate father of the child, you and your child’s mother can either agree on custody and visitation arrangements or the court will decide for you. The judge will make the decision based on what he or she believes to be the best interests of the child. To determine what is in a child’s best interests, judges consider such things as the emotional ties between each parent and the child, the ability of each parent to provide for a child’s day-to-day needs, the stability of home environments and various other factors. 

What happens if paternal legitimation is disputed?

If the mother disputes legitimation, she has the right to attend the legitimation hearing and present evidence as to why she believes the other party should not be declared the legal father of her child. Our skilled lawyer will strongly advocate for your interests in legitimation conflicts, whether you are seeking to be named the legitimate father or are disputing that you are the actual parent.  

Contact an experienced Georgia attorney for assistance with your paternity case

The Brownell Law Office in Gainesville assists with paternity and legitimation matters for clients who reside in Hall, Lumpkin, Dawson, White, Habersham, Banks, Jackson, Barrow and Forsyth counties in Georgia. Call our firm at 770-215-0184 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.