Though individuals are waiting longer to marry, they are not necessarily waiting longer to bear children . The number of children born out of wedlock has risen rapidly in recent years. As more and more children are born outside the marital unit, there is an increasing need to define the rights and responsibilities of the parents of such children.
Paternity determines biological parental rights, while legitimation determines legal parental rights. Both paternity and legitimation determine the rights and responsibilities of the father. The rights and responsibilities of the mother, both biological and legal are determined automatically at birth under Georgia law.
Responsibilities under paternity include child support, while responsibilities under legitimation include child support as well as exercise of one’s opportunity interest to parent a child. Custodial rights are addressed only after establishment of responsibilities under both paternity and legitimation.
The rights and responsibilities of unmarried parents under Georgia law can be complicated and counterintuitive, requiring a family law professional to guide parents through their rights and responsibilities upon the birth of their child. Additional issues such as adoption, child custody, and grandparental rights are just a few of the additional issues created when children are born out of wedlock Such issues require an experienced family law professional to guide families through the options presented when a non-traditional family unit is created.