Paternity can be established using different legal processes in Arizona. When a couple is not married, establishment of paternity is a first step toward setting forth a father’s paternity rights. Unless someone is established as a child’s biological father, whether through proof or voluntary acknowledgement, he will not have parental rights to access and custody over the child. This means a child’s mother is able to withhold visitation when she wishes. If you are concerned about establishing your child’s father’s obligation to pay child support or you are trying to guard against being asked to pay child support for a child who is not yours, you should call our experienced Phoenix paternity lawyer Angela Duhon to discuss your situation.Paternity
Parents who are not married to each other encounter different issues than married couples typically do. A husband is presumed a child’s father when a child is born to married parents. When unmarried parents have a child, but paternity hasn’t been established, legal decision making and paternity time may be left up in the air. It can be damaging to a child and to the parents’ relationship with him or her to leave this issue unsettled or confusing.Presumption of Paternity
Generally, in Arizona, under A.R.S. section 25-814, a man is presumed to be a child’s father under any of the following conditions:
- Genetic testing shows a man has 95% or higher probability of being the father.
- The man was married to the mother in the 10 months immediately before the child was born, or when the child was born within 10 months after their marriage was terminated by death, divorce, annulment, or legal separation.
- The parents aren’t married and both of them sign the birth certificate.
- They’re unmarried, but each signs a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form.
Our Phoenix lawyer handling paternity defense can rebut any of these presumptions with clear and convincing evidence. When the court decrees someone else is actually the father of the child, this is an adequate rebuttal.Acknowledgement of Paternity
Unmarried parents can also get an acknowledgement of paternity statement witnessed or notarized. This statement, which is filed with the court, the Department of Health & Human Services and the Department of Economic Security, voluntarily acknowledges that a child is biologically the mother and father’s and establishes paternity.
The voluntary paternity acknowledgment may be used to rebut the presumption that a mother’s husband is the child’s father. When a biological father files an acknowledgment, the spouse may provide written consent regarding the biological father’s rights and obligations.
Any paternity acknowledgement needs to be voluntary. When paternity is acknowledged, both parents will have parental rights and support obligations. If preferred, the two parents can agree to be bound by a DNA paternity test conducted by a certified lab that shows paternity has been determined by at least a 95% probability.Adjudication of Paternity
Paternity can also be adjudicated in a paternity lawsuit brought under A.R.S. section 25-806. Our Phoenix lawyer can kick off paternity proceedings by filing a verified petition alleging a woman delivered a child or a child was born out of lawful wedlock and the respondent is the child’s father. This petition can be filed during a mother’s pregnancy or once a child is born. However, the petition needs to be filed prior to a child reaching the age of majority if the mother wishes to have the father pay child support or past child support. Paternity suits can also be initiated once a child becomes an adult to establish entitlement as an heir.
When a father doesn’t respond in a timely fashion to a paternity suit, the court is allowed to enter a judgment of paternity and order child support. Similarly, when an alleged father fails to show up to be DNA tested, the judge is allowed to enter a default judgment of paternity. Child support can be ordered in this situation, too.Retain a Phoenix Family Law Attorney
Establishing or fighting claims that a man is the father of a baby can be challenging. If you are concerned about bringing or defending against a Phoenix paternity suit, you should hire an experienced Phoenix paternity attorney. Call Ms. Duhon at (602) 699-4949 or via our online form.