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Telephone Notice; Explaining Administrative Legitimation (in brief)

by merlin on June 6th, 2014
  • Sumo

Firstly, profuse apologies for that lack of telephone service at Merlinus Goodman Monroe, LLC; instead, please e-mail or call 678-943-3532.  Frustration with AT&T prompted a move away from them, but the discovery that others were worse has prompted a move back to them, and now there is no telephone service until the new service is stabilized.  As always, e-mail is preferable and works well!

As to the misunderstood issue of administrative legitimation –

This is a new phenomenon in the law, having been enacted in 2008 as part of the set of the “Care of a Grandchild Act”” statutes that were included in law to ensure that it would be possible for a grandparent to assume custody and control of a child if their own child was unable.  The Code section providing for administrative legitimation is also the Code section at which the definition of “legal father” may be found, and has been written about on this site before.  A case that currently occupies my attention involves an “acknowledgment of legitimation”, but I had never come into contact with one before, and this is an intelligent and interesting step to take.  The Code section (O.C.G.A. Section 19-7-21.1) provides as follows:

“(a) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) “Acknowledgment of legitimation” means a written statement contained in a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form indicating that a mother and father of a child born out of wedlock have freely agreed and consented that the child may be legitimated.

(2) “Legal father” means a male who:

(A) Has legally adopted a child;

(B) Was married to the biological mother of that child at the time the child was conceived or was born, unless such paternity was disproved by a final order pursuant to Article 3 of this chapter;

(C) Married the legal mother of the child after the child was born and recognized the child as his own, unless such paternity was disproved by a final order pursuant to Article 3 of this chapter;

(D) Has been determined to be the father by a final paternity order pursuant to Article 3 of this chapter;

(E) Has legitimated the child by a final order pursuant to Code Section 19-7-22; or

(F) Has legitimated a child pursuant to this Code section

and who has not surrendered or had terminated his rights to the child.

(b) Prior to the child’s first birthday, a father of a child born out of wedlock may render his relationship with the child legitimate when both the mother and father have freely agreed, consented, and signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and an acknowledgment of legitimation which have been made and have not been rescinded pursuant to Code Section 19-7-46.1. The State Office of Vital Records shall provide notice, in writing, of the alternatives to, legal consequences of, and the rights and responsibilities of signing a voluntary acknowledgment of legitimation.

(c) Voluntary acknowledgment of legitimation shall not be recognized if:

(1) The mother was married to another man when the child was born;

(2) The mother was married to another man at any time within the usual period of gestation;

(3) There is another legal father;

(4) The mother has voluntarily and in writing surrendered all of her parental rights pursuant to the provisions of subsection (a) of any of Code Section 19-8-4, 19-8-5, 19-8-6, or 19-8-7 and has not withdrawn her surrender as permitted by the provisions of subsection (b) of Code Section 19-8-9 or the mother’s parental rights have been judicially terminated by a court of competent jurisdiction or an action to terminate such rights has been initiated and is pending;

(5) The mother has signed a voluntary acknowledgment of legitimation with another man; or

(6) The child is one year of age or older.

(d) If any of the circumstances described in subsection (c) of this Code section exists, the provisions of Code Section 19-7-22 shall be the only method of legitimation.

(e) Voluntary acknowledgment of legitimation shall not authorize the father to receive custody or visitation until there is a judicial determination of custody or visitation.

(f) It shall be unlawful to make a false statement on a voluntary acknowledgment of legitimation, and the making of a false statement shall be punishable as an act of false statements and writings under Code Section 16-10-20.

(g) Where a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is timely rescinded and includes a voluntary acknowledgment of legitimation, the legitimation shall also be deemed rescinded.”

Confusion has arisen recently regarding the proper interpretation of this Code section, because Georgia traditionally only permitted custody of a child to be with the mother, until an Order was entered directing that the child was legitimate.  This principle was found at Section 19-7-25:

“Only the mother of a child born out of wedlock is entitled to custody of the child, unless the father legitimates the child as provided in Code Section 19-7-21.1 or 19-7-22. Otherwise, the mother may exercise all parental power over the child.”

The language regarding the Administrative Legitimation Code section, 19-7-21.1, was not known in the law traditionally, and it is still a radical idea to most judges and lawyers.  The Code section itself is so new that only a handful of appellate cases have discussed it, even indirectly.

 

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