Child Support Obligations of a Minor in Arizona
In Arizona, each parent has the legal obligation to provide financial support for their minor children. Does this apply to a boy who fathers a child when he is only 13? In State v. Anonymous, 768 P. 2d 174 (1988) the Arizona Court of Appeals considered the issue.
Facts and Procedure
A 16-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy had a sexual relationship and the girl became pregnant. She gave birth to a child. The Pima County Child Support Services sought an order requiring the boy to provide support for his child. The lower court granted that request. The boy appeals.
Minority and Paternity
The boy argues that the duty of support does not apply to him. Although he is the father of the child, he is legally a child himself. The Court reviewed the language of the statute, A.R.S. § 12-849(A).
That statute provides that a natural parent in Arizona is liable for the financial support of his child. The Court noted that the boy had not cited any authority that an underage father is relieved of that obligation. The Court found that the language of A.R.S. § 12-850 supports the view that a minor is responsible for his child.
It reads: The parent or parents having custody or control of the putative mother or father may be joined as defendants in the action if the putative mother or father is a minor or was a minor at the time the action was commenced. Such parents may be held jointly and severally liable with such minor. However, the liability of such parents shall be limited to an amount not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars.
The Court of Appeals found the legislative purpose to be clear from this statute. The duty of financial child support in Arizona is for the benefit of the helpless newborn child. It is not to punish the parent.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling that the 13 year old had a legal duty to support his child.