Whether you are trying to establish your rights as a father or want to protect those rights in divorce, you need to work within the legal rules that apply to family law matters in Georgia. For that reason, assistance from an experienced family law attorney can make it easier to achieve your goals.
At Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, P.C., we understand the importance of the parent-child relationship and are prepared to use every available means to protect and preserve that relationship.
Marriage Makes a Difference
Georgia law presumes that when a couple is married at the time a child is born, the husband of the mother is the father of the child, and the parents have joint custody of the child from birth. If you are seeking to enforce your rights as a father and you were married to the child’s mother at the time of birth, an attorney can help you maximize your opportunities for physical and legal custody.
However, if you were not married at the time the child was born, you will need to take legal action to establish parental rights. If the mother was married to someone else at the time of birth, it is crucial to act quickly, because as time passes, it can be more difficult for a biological father to overcome the presumption that the mother’s husband is the father of the child.
Paternity and Legitimation
A father who is not married to a child’s mother at the time the child was born does not acquire any rights automatically and it is necessary to take steps to establish paternity and to legitimate the child.
A finding or acknowledgement of paternity establishes the biological father of a child. Paternity can be ascertained through a test or parents can sign a paternity acknowledgement form. If one parent refuses to sign an acknowledgement, the other can file an action in court to determine paternity.
When a father has demonstrated paternity, that alone does not give him rights to custody or parenting time (visitation), although it does trigger child support obligations. The legal process of legitimation can establish inheritance rights and give a father the right to petition for custody and parenting time with the child. As with establishing paternity, it may be possible to accomplish legitimation by signing an acknowledgement of legitimation, or it may be necessary to petition the court.
A Father’s Custody and Visitation Rights
Decisions about custody and visitation in Georgia are based on the best interests of the child. When a father can demonstrate to the court why it is in the child’s best interests to grant custody or visitation, he stands a much greater chance of achieving his objectives.
A family law attorney could review your circumstances in light of the 17 factors courts consider and prepare arguments and evidence to support your desired outcome.
Work with a Dedicated Fathers’ Rights Attorney in Atlanta
You deserve top quality representation when you are seeking to enforce your rights as a father, but you should not have to jeopardize your financial future to pay attorney’s fees. At Tessie D. Edwards & Associates, we strive to provide affordable legal services so that you can move forward with confidence and become the father you and your children deserve. For a confidential consultation to learn how we could assist in your case, contact us today.