“Father” can mean different things to different people, depending upon their family and background. It can mean the man who biologically fathered his children, or the man children call “Dad,” regardless of biological status.
In Georgia, both the mother and father who are married have equal rights as parents. However, it is important to note that if the parents are unmarried, only the biological mother has legal and physical custody rights to the child. In order for an unwed father to obtain rights to his child, he must file a judicial petition seeking legitimation.
“Biological Father” vs. “Legal Father”
Under Georgia law, a child’s alleged biological father is the man who impregnated the child’s mother, resulting in the child’s birth. Conversely, the “legal” father is a person who acted in accordance with one of the following:
- He legally adopted the child;
- He was married to the mother at the time the child was conceived or born, making him the “presumed father” (unless paternity was disproved by a final order);
- He married the mother after the child was born and recognized the child as his own;
- He legitimated the child.
Acknowledgment of Paternity: The Putative Father Registry
The “putative” father is the one considered to be the father, or has the reputation of being the father. Once paternity has been established, the putative father registry contains information as to who has acknowledged paternity of the child. This is important to the putative father because he may not be listed on the birth certificate.