Fatherhood Research Institute Issues White Paper Informing Educators on Georgia’s Legitimation Law, Fatherhood Engagement and Educational Outcomes for Their Black and Brown Students
ATLANTA (August 10, 2022)— Fathers Incorporated (FI) has partnered with RedefinED Atlanta to write a series of educational briefs addressing fatherhood engagement for low-income African American students and their families. These briefs will speak directly to fatherhood engagement best practices for educators in K-12 institutions. The third of the three briefs highlight the importance of addressing policies that have a negative impact on fatherhood engagement in trying to understand the educational outcomes of youth. The policy/law highlighted in this brief is legitimation.
Fathers Incorporated’s Moynihan Institute for Fatherhood Research and Policy oversees this project. The Moynihan Institute provides descriptive and explanatory research and policy positions on issues that impact Black families from the perspective of fathers. This brief is designed for academicians and practitioners to focus continued attention on recognizing the impediments to fatherhood engagement and its impact on how well their child does in school.
Legitimation is a policy that determines the legal status of non-married fathers in relation to his child. When children are legitimized, fathers have the right and authority to make decisions in support of their well-being. In all states but Georgia, legitimation for non-married fathers is determined at the time of paternity. In the state of Georgia, legitimation and paternity are treated as two separate administrative and legal actions. As of the end of 2020, there have been 558,742 children in the state of Georgia born without a legal father since 2010. Fathers are expected to pay child support when paternity is established and responsible for medical and other bills. Paternity does not automatically determine legitimation. Legitimation is a separate process whereby non-married fathers must take legal action to establish fathers’ rights pertaining to decisions related to their children, including but not limited to: medical decisions and school choices.
“Fathers who do not have legal access to academic decisions may not feel the need to be engaged with their children in other ways. Furthermore, fathers battling legitimation and other policies may have strained relationships with the mothers of their children. This, in turn, may be a barrier to positive engagement and positive youth academic outcomes,” suggests Dr. Matisa Wilbon; Associate Research Scientist for Fathers Incorporated and Vice-Chair of the Moynihan Institute.
Fathers Incorporated is a leader in the fatherhood field and is known for its national and local work focused on improving father engagement in the lives of children. They are also a forerunner of creating safe spaces for fathers to explore related issues. Through their “Fatherhood is Brotherhood” program, FI teaches fathers about the legitimation process and offers free legitimation services to fathers who need them. Programs like these are incredibly important for fathers and those assisting fathers in making informed decisions and fostering father/child relationships.
“This brief is critically important to the ongoing work of elevating a conversation on the impact of legitimation on the well-being of children. The fact that we hold fathers to a responsibility to be present in the lives of their children, justify it through paternity, yet withhold the legal right for them to have access to their children is a paradox that must be explored and remedied,” says Kenneth Braswell; CEO of Fathers Incorporated.
To access the full report, please visit www.fathersincorporated.com or www.themoynihaninstitute.com. You may also listen to a podcast presentation of the report by Dr. Matisa Wilbon at https://bit.ly/IAmDad_2