In general, legitimation is the legal process by which a father establishes his parental rights with respect to a minor child (or children) when he was not married to the child’s mother when the child was born and the child has not been legitimated since being born. Legitimation can provide profound legal rights for a father because until he is legitimated he has no custodial rights. Quite frankly, unless he has been legitimated, a father has almost no rights but he does still have obligations.
Generally, a legitimation must be filed in the county where the mother resides, but there are exceptions that the law provides for where a legitimation can be filed in the county of the father.
A paternity action, on the other hand, generally is where the mother is the moving party seeking to establish paternity of the father and to establish his child support obligation when the parties were not married at the time of the child’s birth.