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Public Policy and Administration


Kevin Fandl


For noncustodial fathers, having legal rights and leaving an inheritance to their child or children are important aspects of being an active father. Georgia state law sees a difference between paternity and legitimation, and for some noncustodial fathers, although paternity is established and they are responsible for supporting that child financially and medically as deemed through child support enforcement, they have no legal rights to their children, nor can they petition the courts for visitation until legitimation is established. This correlational study examined the impact that the legitimation policy has on noncustodial fathers and their relationship with their child, as measured by visitation and attitudes toward child support obligations. Dunn's conceptualization of continuous policy analysis provided the theoretical foundation for the study. Online survey data were collected from a sample of 325 noncustodial fathers in the state of Georgia through the Department of Child Support Services Fatherhood Program. The Spearman's rho analysis revealed a weak, but statistically significant (p <.01) and positive relationship between the level of knowledge of the legitimation process/policy and attitudes towards visitation of unmarried fathers who participate in the Fatherhood program as well as attitudes towards child support obligations. The findings of this study support Dunn's theoretical approach of continual policy analysis and provide evidence to and encouragement for policy makers to review the legitimation policy, synthesize conflicting views, and develop policy options that may include eliminating the legitimation process from Official Code of Georgia Annotated 19-7-22 (O.C.G.A.).