In Arizona, both parents have rights as well as responsibilities for their children. For children born to married parents, paternity is not an issue. However, there are more and more children being born to single parents. In these situations, paternity is not a given – it must be established by law. Both parents may want to know how to establish paternity.

Paternity Petition

In order to establish paternity legally, the parent must file a paternity petition. Either parent is able to file the petition as long as they meet the requirements.  The state may also bring a petition. The petition will establish paternity and can also address parenting time, legal decision-making (custody), and child support.

In order for Arizona to have jurisdiction over a paternity matter, the child must have lived in the state for at least 6 months leading up to the filing of the action.

What Happens Next

The respondent must be legally served with the petition. If the respondent is the father, and he agrees that he is the parent, paternity can be established by agreement and subsequent finding of the court entered as an order. If the respondent disagrees with the petition, a court hearing will be set. The court will order genetic testing to establish whether the respondent is, indeed, the father.

Other Orders

Once paternity is legally established, and if legal decision-making and parenting time orders have also been requested, the father and mother need to establish a parenting plan. The parenting plan details the critical issues regarding the child. Child support will also likely be established.  Additionally, a new birth certificate can be made that includes the name of the birth father. The parents may also choose to legally change the last name of the child at this time.

Establishing paternity can be a complicated process, and one that is best accomplished with assistance from a qualified family law attorney.

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 to Establish Paternity, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to, 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.