Contesting Paternity When Another Father’s Name is on the Birth Certificate
Some people ask can you establish paternity when another person is on the birth certificate in Arizona. Well, the Arizona Court of Appeals decided that issue in the case of Castillo v. Lazo.
In its published decision in Castillo v. Lazo, 241 Ariz. 295, 386 P.3d 839 (App. 2016), the Court of Appeals examined whether a birth certificate is equivalent to a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and whether a putative father may file a paternity action when the child is born in wedlock.
Birth Certificate is Not a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity
Putative Father and Mother had a sexual relationship between September 2012 and April 2013 while Mother’s husband was working overseas. In July 2013, Mother gave birth to a son and her husband was listed on the birth certificate. In December 2015, Putative Father filed a paternity action seeking parenting time and joint legal decision-making.
Mother filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that her husband’s name already appeared on the child’s birth certificate and Putative Father’s action was untimely. The court granted Mother’s motion to dismiss and Putative Father appealed.
On appeal, Putative Father argued that the time limitations in A.R.S. § 25-812(E) did not apply since Mother’s husband had not signed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. The Court of Appeals agreed. First, it found that A.R.S. § 25-812(E) only applies to children born out of wedlock.
Additionally, it held that the current version of the statute prohibited the filing of a birth certificate signed by the parents of a child born out of wedlock as a means of establishing paternity. Therefore, a birth certificate was not equivalent to a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity under the statute and Putative Father’s petition was timely.
Mother also argued that A.R.S. § 25-806(A) only allows paternity proceedings to be commenced by filing a petition that alleges that a woman delivered a child born out of wedlock. While the Court acknowledged the deficiency in the statute, it found that A.R.S. § 25-803 places no limitation on a “father” commencing a paternity proceeding.
Further, it held, that A.R.S. § 25-814(A)(1) creates a presumption of paternity by marriage, but A.R.S. § 25-814(C) allows the presumption to be rebutted. If the legislature intended to limit paternity actions to children born out of wedlock, it would not have made the marriage presumption rebuttable. The Court remanded the case to allow the adjudication of Putative Father’s petition.
If you have questions about paternity when another person is on the birth certificate in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona paternity and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in paternity and family law cases.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your paternity or family law case around today.
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