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Legitimation is a legal action which is the only way, other than by marrying the mother of a child, that the father of a child born in the State of Georgia may establish legal rights to his child. Only the father of a child may file a petition seeking to legitimate his child.

An order of legitimation creates a father and child relationship legally between the petitioner and his child. An order of legitimation establishes that the child may inherit from this legal father and vice versa. An order of legitimation allows the legal father to be listed on the child's birth certificate as such. An order of legitimation is the only way that the father of a child born out of wedlock can be recognized as the legal father of a child and therefore can petition for custody and/or visitation with this child.

If custody is to be an issue, you must still file your legitimation first, and get the Order of Legitimation signed. Once your child has been legitimated by the Court Order then you may file another action for custody. The exception to this rule is if the mother is deceased, there is no other legal parent or guardian, or the mother consents to custody. If you are already listed on the child's birth certificate as the father, but you and the child's mother were not married to each other, you must still file a petition with the court to legitimate your child.

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