Asked in Family Law for Georgia

Q: Georgia - My child was born out of wedlock and her father did sign the birth certificate. Does he have rights legally?

He is a homeless drug addict that does not have a relationship ship with my child. I did file for child support in 2010, but after he was behind 3k I decided to terminate the order because he wasn't paying it anyways and I didn't want any ties with him. He did recognize that he is the biological parent and assumed responsibility for her when I had filed for the child support. Does that mean he has rights? He has seen her about 2x a year since she was born. I am marrying a man that wants to adopt my child, but I don't know if he can because her father is on her birth certificate? Please help.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Eric J. Garber
Eric J. Garber
  • Augusta, GA
  • Licensed in Georgia

A: It depends. If all the Father did was sign the birth certificate or an "Acknowledgement of Paternity", then he has no legal rights at this point; all he would have is the legal responsibility to pay child support. If he (and you) signed an "Acknowledgment of Legitimation", he would have legal right to the child. Keep in mind that you may not clearly remember whether he/you signed an Acknowledgment of Legitimation or any other documents, however, as you may still have been groggy from giving birth to your child at the time you signed all of this paperwork. You can contact the GA Department of Vital Records to obtain a copy of these documents. Basically, if the father has admitted paternity but has done nothing else, he does not have legal rights to the child. If he has legitimated (or you have admitted legitimacy), then he does have legal rights to the child.

As it relates to your adoption question, either way you will still have to give him the biological father notice of your adoption action and he must be given an opportunity to contest your new man's attempts to adopt the child. If he has legal rights via legitimation, you will also have to seek to terminate his parental rights in said adoption action. Understand that adoptions in Georgia are VERY VERY VERY complicated, and you should speak with an experienced family law attorney, particularly one who specializes in adoptions, to make sure you have cleared all of the legal hurdles necessary to make the proposed step-parent adoption legal and enforceable (and not subject to attack by the biological father).

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