Local Adoption Law Potential Changes and Challenges:
The Georgia Commission on Child Support has proposed legislation to repeal administrative legitimation.
Background: Effective July 1, 2008, the Georgia legislature enacted SB 88, which included language that created a new code section O.C.G.A. § 19-7-21.1 dealing with administrative legitimation. This law enabled birth fathers of children born out of wedlock to legalize or “legitimate” the child by signing a form, without having to go through formal proceedings in court. The intent behind the law was to make it easier for birthfathers to legitimate their children and therefore be more present in the children’s lives and self-proclaim both their emotional and financial responsibility to the child.
Fallout: Despite the good intentions of the law, the fallout has been great. The administrative legitimation form is given out freely by nurses at the hospital and the man standing with a birth mother is often instructed to sign without a full understanding of what it is they are signing, without the advice of counsel, and sometimes without the proper legal right to do so. The law requires that the birthmother not be married to another man at the time the birthfather signs the administrative legitimation. In reality, many do sign when the mother is married, and confusion as to rights to the child ensues. Additionally, no DNA test is required for signing, also creating confusion down the road when a biological link is brought into question. Many Georgia adoption attorneys and their clients have seen the direct negative effects of this bill. When going through an adoption, all parental rights must be fully terminated to proceed. With the confusion that ensues from administrative legitimation, many adoptions have been stalled, wrongly contested or vacated as a result. Most adoption attorneys, including those at Steffas & Associates, P.C., feel that 19-7-21.1 directly undermines the judicial process put in place for the orderly legitimation of children in O.C.G.A. 19-7-22.
Current proposals: The Georgia General Assembly convened on January 12, 2015. There are two Bills expected to be proposed, one to repeal administrative legitimation (designated as LC 29 6090) and the second to amend administrative legitimation (LC 29 6089). The Child Support Commission favors the bill to repeal administrative legitimation, i.e., LC 29 6090. Additionally, the Georgia Council of Adoption Attorneys fully supports the repeal of administrative legitimation.
Your thoughts: What do you think about the administrative legitimation? Should the law be left the same or changed? Write me with your opinion.