In Georgia child custody cases, both parents are treated equally by the courts. In other words, courts don’t automatically favor mothers over fathers in child custody matters. However, when the parents of an unborn child are unmarried, things are different. When an unborn child’s father isn’t married to the expectant mother, the father must take certain steps to ensure that he retains his legal rights to his child. If you are the unwed father of an unborn child in Georgia, below is an overview of the steps you can take to protect your relationship with your child.
Take a Paternity Test
First, as an unwed father, you should immediately seek to establish paternity to ensure that your rights as a father are protected. Tests are available to establish paternity before the birth of the child. However, the child’s mother isn’t required to submit to this testing. If the mother of your unborn child isn’t cooperative, you may file a legitimation action while the mother is pregnant. This action asks the court to require genetic testing of the child at birth. After birth, another way to establish paternity is to obtain a court order declaring that you are the child’s biological father.
Attend the Child’s Birth
As an unwed father in Georgia, you don’t have the right to witness the birth of your child if the mother denies you permission. However, you should ask the mother’s permission to attend the birth, as your presence at the child’s birth will demonstrate to the court that you are committed to remaining in your child’s life. In addition, if you attend your child’s birth, you may be given the opportunity to sign an acknowledgment of paternity, which can later be used to prove that you are the child’s father.
Provide the Mother with Financial Support
Finally, if you are the father of an unborn child in Georgia, you should provide some financial support to your child’s mother during the pregnancy. However, in order for this to benefit you, you should avoid paying the mother in cash, and you should keep detailed records of the support given. In addition to money, financial support can include items such as diapers, a crib, baby clothes, a car seat, and other items for the child. Financial support during pregnancy provides evidence of your involvement in the unborn child’s life, and it helps lower the odds that the court will award the mother certain costs in a later child support action.
Contact a Georgia Child Custody Attorney
Finally, if you are an unwed father who wishes to protect your relationship with your unborn child, you need an experienced Georgia child custody attorney on your side. At Carter/Pilgrim, our experienced child custody attorney will work diligently to protect your relationship with your unborn child. Attorney Amy Carter has the knowledge and experience necessary to fight for your legal rights as a father. Please contact us today for a consultation.