Paternity refers to the condition of being a legal father and can trigger legal obligations, such as child support, in Arizona. The process of establishing paternity means that a man is being legally established as a father or as a non-biological father. When the parents of a child are not legally married, establishing paternity is an important step for legal purposes.
Establishing Paternity in Arizona
There are several different ways this can be accomplished, but you may wish to speak with an Arizona family lawyer first so you have an understanding of what legal paternity establishment means for you.
- Genetic testing: If there are concerns about paternity, either parent can opt for genetic testing. This is conducted in your local Division of Child Support Services office. If the results indicate that a man is the father with 95% match or higher, these results are submitted to the court for the purposes of a paternity order.
- The Division of Child Support Services also provides a voluntary opportunity where unmarried parents can open a case to establish paternity and child support. This is available for cases where children have been born in other states as well as Arizona. Both parents will sign a Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity so that it can be filed with DCSS.
- Parents can also file a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity at any time with the courts, so long as it is signed by both parents. In fact, the parents may be approached by hospital staff in soon after delivery to verify whether the potential father is willing to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement form right then and there.
- Unmarried parents may also go through the Arizona courts to resolve paternity issues and initiate a child support order. While this option may involve attorney fees, filing fees, and court costs, it can be very beneficial to have a lawyer explaining the process to you and handling your matter professionally.
- In some cases where one party is not cooperating in efforts to establish paternity, the open case at DCSS could be referred to the Attorney General’s Office for a court hearing in order to establish paternity as well as a child support order.
If you are concerned about establishing paternity with the legal father of your child, or if you are a father wanting to be officially named as the father so as to protect your legal rights, this can be a nerve-wracking and stressful time for you. Consulting with an Arizona family lawyer can be critical for helping you figure out your options and for providing clarity over the next steps.
Once paternity has been established, this identifies the legal parents for the child and can initiate other legal actions, like an order for child support. Arizona uses statewide guidelines for determining child support, and the establishment of the legal father can obligate that father for payment of child support. For unwed parents, establishing paternity is more than just a formality, as it can begin the payment of child support. Parents concerned about this issue would do well to get legal advice on the matter sooner rather than later. Once an order for support has been established, the parent with primary custody may begin receiving child support payments.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding How Is Paternity Established in Arizona?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.