Paternity Laws in Arizona
What is Paternity in Arizona
Arizona paternity laws apply when a child is born out of wedlock. There is no legal presumption a parent is the father of the child when that child is conceived and born between two unmarried people. Until a father legally establishes paternity, he has no legal rights to the child. He does not have a right to exercise parenting time with the child. He cannot make legal decisions for the child, such as medical care or where your child attends school. The most common way to establish paternity is by going to court and obtaining a Declaratory Judgment of paternity.
A person may request DNA testing to determine if he is the father of a child. Paternity laws in Arizona allow a court to order DNA testing to establish if that individual is the father of the child. There are new methods of scientific testing that are very accurate at proving whether a man is or is not the father of a child. The test results can exclude a person from being a possible father of a child or can provide evidence that it is very likely the man is the father of the child. Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-814 provides that paternity can be established through genetic testing, so long as that testing proves at least a 95% probability the man is the father of the child.
Once paternity is established, the court will then issue orders regarding legal decision making for the child, parenting time, determine current child support and, if necessary, issue a judgment for the payment of past child support.
Four Ways to Legally Establish Paternity in Arizona
In Arizona, paternity laws allow paternity to be established in several ways, which may be summarized into the following four categories:
- Filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity with the court;
- Filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity with the Arizona Department of Economic Security
- Filing a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born through the Arizona Department of Health Services;
- Filing a paternity action with the court and having the judge assigned to your case issue a Declaratory Judgment of Paternity.
Voluntary Establishment of Paternity in Arizona
One common misconception regarding the establishment of paternity is that paternity may only be established by a judge after DNA testing has been completed. If the parties agree, they may establish paternity voluntarily without ever going to court. For example, they may both sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, which is filed at one of the many Arizona Department of Health Services offices located throughout Arizona.
Although doing so does grant the father all of the legal rights and responsibilities attendant to a parent/child relationship, those rights are not defined until the parties go to court to establish orders about custody (now referred to as “legal decision making”), parenting time, and child support.
Easiest Way to Establish Paternity in Arizona
The easiest way to establish paternity in Arizona is to do so at the hospital when the baby is born. The hospital will provide a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form for the parents to complete and sign. Upon completion, the form will be sent to either the Arizona Department of Economic Services, the Arizona Department of Health Services, or to the superior court to establish paternity legally.
If you have not signed that form when the child is born, you may go to any of the several Arizona Department of Economic Services offices to sign and file that Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity. Understand that both parents must sign that form for it to be valid. Sometimes it may be unclear as to who may be the biological father of a child.
A DNA test may be ordered to discover the biological father’s identity. There is always the possibility that one party may decline to take the test, but it is more likely than not that an order will be issued by a judge requiring a party to submit to a DNA test.
Once those results are received, the parties may then stipulate as to the identity of the biological father, or they may participate in a trial on the issue and the Court will decide if the testing establishes the man as the father of the child to establish paternity.
Paternity issues can have a significant impact on parents and their child. How your attorney handles those paternity issues will have a tremendous impact on the parenting rights and responsibilities each parent will have with their child.
Arizona paternity laws provide each parent with certain rights and obligations with their child. Either parent may petition the court to order DNA testing to verify a father is the court decides the actual biological parent of the child before issues such as custody and support.
The court will issue orders providing for the support of the child, including retroactive child support for past unpaid child support, and is required to enter custody orders that are determined to be in the best interests of the parties’ child.
The professionals at Hildebrand Law, PC will keep you informed and directly involved in the management of your paternity case throughout the entire process. You will be provided with practical and efficient solutions to your paternity issues based on your particular circumstances and goals.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about Arizona paternity laws to ensure everyone has access to information about paternity in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and paternity attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through in a paternity case.
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