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Legitimation grants your child all the benefits he or she is entitled to as ordained by law as he or she would have if the child’s father had been married to the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth. 


Legitimation allows the biological father of a child born out of wedlock to be recognized by law as the child’s legal father. Establishing paternity also allows a Court to enforce a parent’s duty to support a child financially, and also gives the child legal rights, such as inheritance and the ability to obtain medical information. Legitimation also gives the father the right to inherit from the child, and to seek custody of, or Parenting Time with, the child. If the father does not seek legitimation, only the mother of the child born out of wedlock has any legal right of custody. We can explain these legal benefits and guide you through the process to ensure you and your children have the rights they deserve.


  • What is “legitimation?”
    Legitimation is a legal process where the biological father of a child born out of wedlock becomes the child’s legal father. Prior to legitimation, the child is said to be illegitimate. Once a child has been legitimated, he or she is entitled to the same legal benefits as he or she would be if the father had been married the mother at the time of the child’s birth.

    Legitimation requires paternity to be established.

  • What is “paternity?”
    Paternity is the legal recognition of fatherhood. When paternity has been established, that means that a man has been legally determined to be a child’s biological father.

  • Why is legitimation important?
    If a child is born out of wedlock, the biological mother is the only person entitled to custody of the child under Georgia law, even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate. To have any legal rights to the child, the biological father must go through the legitimation process.

  • What are the benefits of legitimation?
    Legitimation offers many benefits to both the father and the child.
    For example:

  • A father can petition for custody and visitation.

  • The child can inherit from the father.

  • The child can have access to medical history from the father’s side of the family.

  • The child can be placed in the care of a relative of the father if the mother is unable to care for the child.

  • How to I file for legitimation?
    Legitimation can be completed within the voluntary paternity acknowledgment form. If you didn’t do this, then you must petition the court to legitimate the child. Legitimation must be filed in the mother’s county of residence through the clerk of the superior court. If the mother is out of state or cannot be located, the petition for legitimation may be filed in the father’s county of residence. If there is an open adoption preceding, the petition for legitimation must be filed in the county where the adoption is taking place.

  • Do I need a lawyer to establish legitimation?
    Not necessarily. You can file the petition for legitimation on your own, but it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer to make sure you’re doing it correctly. The process is typically simple, but your individual circumstances may complicate the legitimation process, such as the mother contesting the legitimation, if there has been a history of violence between you, the mother and/or the children, if the mother cannot be located or if the mother was married to someone else at the time of the child’s conception or birth.

    Pillow Hayes Family Law can help you navigate the process. Contact us for a consultation.



Every family is unique, and therefore every case is unique. At Pillow Hayes Family Law, we treat each matter individually, providing personal attention to our clients and their needs to ensure the best possible results. Our job is to protect the best interests of you and your family. We promise to work tirelessly to help you achieve your goals


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