Before filing a petition for child legitimation it is best to have a DNA test done to make sure that the child in question is yours. Ask your primary care physician to recommend one a lab that can provide these services for you. Make sure that you will be provided written results as these may be required at a later date.
At this point having a family law attorney is advised, as sometimes there are more complex problems with your case and Judges do not favor pro se litigants who are not prepared.
Drafting and Filing the Petition
To begin the case a petition for legitimation must be filed in the Superior Court of county of residence of the child’s mother/legal guardian. The father would be “Plaintiff” and mother/legal guardian would be “Defendant”. If the mother lives out of state or cannot be found, the father may file in county of his residence. If an adoption has been filed, father needs to file in county where adoption is proceeding.
The petition itself needs to state the child’s name, age and sex. It is important to include a claim for specific visitation, so that this can be enforced by Judge through a subsequent contempt action.
Asking for and Attending a Hearing
Once mother is served, you need to request a hearing in front of the Judge your case has been assigned to. Usually the clerk of the superior court or the Judge’s secretary can help you do this. Notice of the hearing should be sent to the mother. Be on time to hearing and bring copy of DNA test if you have one. When your case is called you as Plaintiff will go first. Judge will direct you to witness box and you will be sworn in..that is the point at which you tell the Judge who you are, who is the mother , who is the child, where the child lives and what you want the Court to do (legitimate and set some visitation guidelines. Ask the Judge to admit the DNA test into evidence so he can consider it.
At the end of the hearing the Judge will issue an Order, either legitimating your child or not. The Courts are very likely to approve a legitimation request unless the mother can show you to be an “unfit” parent. Make sure you get a “certified copy” of the Order and keep it with you. If at any time the mother denies you access to the child when it is your parenting time, you will need that document so that the police can help you.