Child Custody Law for Unmarried Couples in Georgia
Child custody may be a tough topic to discuss, especially when the parents are also not – or have never been – wedded. Unwed parents in Georgia are subject to almost the same child custody and child support laws as married parents. However, without the legal bond of marriage, parents may face additional onerous criteria and challenges if they seek to have child custody or obtain financial assistance.
How are custodial rights established?
Unmarried parents in Georgia have different rights than married parents when it comes to child custody. In Georgia, only the mother is immediately regarded the legal parent if a kid is born out of wedlock. Even if they sign the birth certificate, unmarried dads have no legal rights to their children.
However, before proceeding with custody discussions, an unmarried father of a child must demonstrate paternity. Signing the Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement Form jointly is the simplest way for an unmarried couple to demonstrate paternity in Georgia. If one of them refuses to sign the paperwork, the other may seek a paternity order from the court. In rare circumstances, the Division of Child Support Services may intervene and order paternity testing of the probable father.
The other option that is available for the father to be recognized as the child’s legal parent, not simply the biological one, is ‘legitimation’. It’s a significant factor in determining custody since, unless alternative legal arrangements are established, the mother has complete legal custody of a child born out of wedlock.
There may be some cases where unmarried parents may want to get married in order to alleviate custody worries and other legal obstacles. Legitimation is the legal mechanism for an unmarried father to get custody rights to his kid if he does not choose this option.
Will you have to pay child support as an unmarried dad?
In Georgia, an unmarried father must go through legitimation to get child custody and visiting rights, but legitimation is not required to pay child support. Even though the father has not legitimated the kid, the court might force him to pay child support.
Once paternity is confirmed in Georgia, the court may require the father to pay child support. Child support responsibilities are common for non-custodial parents, whether they are wedded or not. This is to assist the custodial parent in meeting the child’s requirements. Because an unmarried mother is automatically the custodial parent, the court may rule that the father must financially aid her.
Things to remember
Paternity refers to the biological part of fatherhood, whereas legitimation relates to the legal institution of fatherhood. If the biological father is not married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, he is not generally regarded the legal father. Also remember that a person’s name cannot be recorded as father on a child’s birth certificate without the written approval of both the person and the mother under Georgia law (O.C.G.A. § 31-10-9).
Also, in answer to the legitimation petition, the mother must be given an opportunity to be heard. Keep in mind that the mother can contest legitimacy by claiming that the petitioner is not the kid’s biological father or that he has lost his chance to build a relationship with the kid(s). However, if the court finds these claims untrue, it will issue an order declaring the father-child connection lawful.
If a child’s parents are not married, Georgia family law can rapidly get difficult. As a result, some parents are at a significant disadvantage. If you are an unmarried parent in Georgia dealing with child custody or child support concerns, don’t hesitate to call a family law attorney for assistance.