Legitimation is the legal process where the parent-child relationship of a child born out of wedlock is established with the father.

While the mother is automatically considered the legal parent of a child at birth, the father must either be married to the mother at the birth of the child, or marry her at some time thereafter.  When the father marries the mother after the birth of the child, he need only recognize the child as his, and then the child takes his last name and is considered legitimate under the law.  O.C.G.A. 19-7-20.

It should be noted that under that same code section, if a child is born during a marriage, but the husband disputes the fact that the child is his, and files for divorce, that child will not be legitimate.  (assuming of course that the child is not his biological child.)

Without marriage, a father can establish the parent-child relationship through a legitimation suit under O.C.G.A. 19-7-22.  Once the court grants an order of legitimation, the father will then have the right to visitation, and possibly custody of the child.  He also is responsible for financial support of the child under the child support guidelines.  The child also is then legally allowed to inherit from the father.

The standard that the court applies for establishing the custody and visitation terms is the “best interests of the child” standard.  This is an important thing to keep in mind when going through the court process, because no matter how passionately a person believes that the child should be in his or her custody, you need to keep your emotions in check to some degree because fierce and uncompromising positions do not always make the best impression on the court that will be deciding the terms of custody and visitation.  You must at all times appear to be actually considering the fact that the other parent has an equal right to have a role in the child’s life.

Like all other court cases where a minor child is involved, you must be extremely aware that the court looks at the best interests of the child, and not the best interests of the parent.  When it is obvious, or even suspected that a parent is not trying to do the best thing for that child, you quickly lose the interest of the court in granting you the rights that you desperately want to have.  In my 7 years of work as a judicial law clerk,  I learned that one of the easiest things in the world to spot was a litigant who was not interested in the child’s best interests, but was using the child as a chess piece to gain control over the other parent.

When you hire Roy Yunker Law, you will get my experience from the judge’s chambers to maximize your chances to get the parental rights you deserve.