My son's father and I have never been married and separated when my son was a year old. We have no custody or support agreements in force. He did sign the birth certificate and my son has his last name, but we have never filed anything with the court. He does not pay child support. Does he have any legal rights to my son?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Until and unless he files a case in superior court he has no legal rights to the child, but he is free to file such a case and seek custody or visitation. Regardless, under Georgia law, even absent a court order, he has to pay support every 30 days and you can have him jailed for failing to do so.
The father has no custodial or visitation rights until he legitimates your son. He is obligated, however, to provide support. You can go to your county Child Support Enforcement (CSE) office and start the procedure. It usually takes about 6 months. You can also file a Petition to Establish Paternity which usually takes less time. I would suggest hiring an attorney for this process. If you elect to go through the CSE office, the only issues which are considered are the amount of child support and medical insurance. The father has the right to challenge paternity and a paternity test will be allowed. If you file a paternity petition, child support is considered, but the father also has the opportunity to counterclaim with legitimation and have custody and visitation determined. Please call if you have any questions. Tahira P. Piraino. 404/248-0203.