Georgia law is gender neutral when determining who should have primary child custody-the father or the mother. Instead, courts look to the relationship each parent has with the child. However, there are times when fathers need a little help to obtain their rights.
For example, if you father a child out of wedlock, you won't have any parental rights until you establish paternity (known as legitimation in Georgia).
There are many reason why it's important to establish paternity if your child was born out of wedlock. While the mother may encourage you to have a close relationship with your child now, her attitude may change in the future. As the parent with sole custody rights, the mother could cut off visits with your child at any time. Establishing paternity will ensure that you have a right to be involved in your child's life, even if your relationship with the mother ends.
If the mother agrees that you are the father, you can establish paternity without the need for a DNA test.
Protecting your rights as a father in divorce
While Georgia law is gender neutral when it comes to child custody in cases of divorce, judges are human and some may favor awarding primary custody to the mother, especially for younger children. For this reason, it's important to work with an attorney who knows the judges and knows how to present a convincing case for you.
As a father, it's important to establish a strong relationship with your child and involvement in your child's life during your marriage. If the mother is the primary caretaker during your marriage, the court may be inclined to continue that status in your child custody order.