In Georgia, unwed fathers do not have the same rights as fathers who are married to the mother of a child at the time of birth. This brings up a number of questions, as well as woes, for the unwed father. Fathers’ rights groups across the country argue that fathers are not privy to the same rights as mothers regarding children, custody, and visitation. If you are expecting a child in Georgia, and you are not married to the mother, it is crucial to consult with a Georgia child custody attorney to explore your rights.
Unwed Father Woes
In the New York Times Opinion Pages, Clare Huntington wrote “What Unmarried Fathers Have to Worry About.” Even though each state has its own set of family laws, most states have similar laws that set apart married fathers from fathers who are not married to the mother of the child. These laws make it much harder for a father to establish legal rights to the child, even if the father signs his name on the birth certificate. It is even harder for a man to rescind his signature on the birth certificate if he later finds out that he is not the biological father.
Jumping Through Hoops
According to Georgia Legal Aid, an unwed father does not have custody rights to his child, despite signing his name on the birth certificate. In fact, if the father does not live with the mother and desires to establish custody, he has to file for custody in family court of the county where the mother and child reside. The mother and father can agree to sign a voluntary acknowledgement of legitimation, which would legally recognize that the man is the biological father. This action provides the father with the ability to request custody, visitation, and/or child support, and the child is allowed under law to inherit from the father.
Father’s Custody at the Mercy of Financial Ability
These laws do require the father to spend a significant amount of money, as well as lose money due to time off of work to attend court dates. Unfortunately, the financial cost and loss often means that unwed fathers cannot afford to pursue custody of their children. Without a legal custody order from the court, the father can only see his child when the mother allows him to, and while many mothers want their children to have a relationship with the biological father, other mothers use their children as pawns, keeping them from the father because he cannot pay child support or has a new girlfriend.
Are You an Unwed Father?
If you have a child with a woman to whom you are not married, or you are expecting a child soon, you should consider contacting a Georgia child custody attorney at Vayman & Teitelbaum, Attorneys at Law, to ensure that your rights are protected. We believe that you should be able to be a major part of your child’s life, and our attorneys will do everything we can to help you get the custody, visitation, and possibly even child support, depending on the circumstances, that you and your child deserve.