Many fathers in Georgia believe myths about family law that keep them from being an active part of their children’s lives. For example, many men wrongfully believe that Georgia state law gives preferential consideration to mothers.
However, if you review the custody laws in Georgia, you will quickly discover that the state doesn’t discuss the sex of the parents or identify the parental roles of mother and father within the statutes. Instead, the state uses neutral language that grants equal rights to both parents in most circumstances.
As an unmarried father, things may be a bit different for you than they would be for a man married to the mother of children. What rights do unmarried fathers in Georgia have?
The right to establish paternity
Even if the mother of your child wants deny her relationship with you or your relationship to the child, you still have rights as the likely father. When she is cooperative, you can potentially include your name on the birth certificate immediately.
If she does not cooperate by acknowledging you and adding your name to the birth certificate, you have the right to assert that you believe you are the father. You can turn to the Georgia family courts and ask for help establishing paternity. The state can order genetic testing and that allows you to establish yourself as the father of your child.
The right to parenting time at parental authority
The main difference for an unmarried father is that he must first officially establish paternity before he attempts to assert his parental rights. Once the state acknowledges that you are the father of the child, you can request a custody hearing in front of a family law judge. You have the option to ask for shared custody or visitation at the very least.
Both parents have a right to spend time with their children and to have a say in their lives. A judge can afford you both decision-making authority and parenting time even if the mother of your child is uncooperative about your desire to be involved. Learning about your rights as an unmarried father in Georgia will make it easier for you to assert those rights and show up for your child.