Georgia has a rather unique process for establishing parental rights where the parents are not married at the time the child is born; an occurrence that, unfortunately, is all too common today. In many states, the biological father signing the birth certificate establishes the legal father of the child, BUT NOT IN GEORGIA.
Here, we require the Father to file a Petition for Legitimation, claiming he is the father and that he wants to be the legal father. The father can also ask for custody and/or visitation rights in his Petition for Legitimation, a recent development in Georgia law. (Prior to the change, a Father had to first legitimate the child, and then file a separate suit for visitation and/or custody, unless the Mother consented to both issues being joined.) Only a Father can Petition to Legitimate. Child Support can be awarded in a Legitimation action or it may not be. A Mother can file a counterclaim for child support in a legitimation action, or the Father can ask the court to set support.
A paternity action is filed by the Mother against a Father to whom she is not married in order to collect child support. This can be done privately through an attorney, such as Miles W. Rich, or she can seek assistance through her county child support services office.