How Can I Establish Paternity in Arizona?
Ways of Establishing Paternity in Arizona
It is important to note that in Arizona it does not matter how paternity is established, as long as it is done so legally. The three most common ways to establish paternity in Arizona are to (1) voluntarily establishment; (2) administratively; or (3) by court action. So long as paternity is legally established in one of these three methods, the father will have all the rights and responsibilities concerning his child(ren).
Establishing Paternity with a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
Arizona allows unmarried parents of a child to establish paternity by both parents signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity which is then filed with the state. Most hospitals will provide unmarried parents with this form at the time the child is born.
Alternatively, you can obtain the form and any Department of Health Services office for completion. Once that form is signed and filed, the father’s parental rights are established.
Establishing Paternity Administratively
A parent can also establish paternity administratively through the Arizona Department of Health Services. This usually occurs when a mother of a child born out of wedlock seeks public assistance for the child and the Arizona Department of Health Services seeks to establish paternity for the purpose of establishing a father’s child support obligation to minimize the mother’s need for state assistance.
Establishing Paternity in a Court Action
Either parent may institute a paternity case in the Superior Court in the county in which the child resides. This is typically done when the parties not only want to establish paternity but also want to establish child custody, parenting time, and child support, as well as any child support arrearages. This is the most costly way to establish paternity in Arizona because it is also the complete way of resolving all of the issues related to establishing paternity in Arizona.
DNA Testing and Establishing Paternity in Arizona
If you are not sure if you are the father of a child, you should ask the court to issue an order requiring both parties and the child participate in a DNA test. If the result of that DNA test shows your probability of paternity to by at least 95%, the court will presume you are the biological father of the child.
You then have the burden of proving you are not the father of the child. If you do not prove you are not the father of the child, the court will enter a Declaratory Judgment establishing you as the father of the child.
It is important to obtain a DNA test before establishing paternity under any of the methods described above. You may be prevented from contesting paternity at a later date even if you have DNA testing that proves you are not the biological father of the child.
Chris Hildebrand wrote this article about how to establish paternity in Arizona to ensure everyone has access to information about paternity laws in Arizona. Chris is a family law 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 paternity case should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and actually caring about what his clients are going through.