Paternity & Fathers' Rights
Contrary to popular belief, your name on the birth certificate or signing of an acknowledgment at the hospital does not establish paternity. If a man and woman are married, Arizona law presumes the husband is the father of any children that are born into the marriage. Otherwise, paternity must be established by court order.
Is an Order of Paternity What I Need?
A paternity proceeding is begun in Family Court by filing a petition to establish paternity. Once the parties are in court, they have the option to consent to an order of paternity, which means that there is no question as to who is the father of the child, and that neither side is requesting blood or DNA tests. It is very difficult to overturn a consent order of paternity and may stand in court even if down the road it is determined that the legal father is not the biological father.
If there is no consent order of paternity, the court will generally order blood or DNA tests. Once the results of the blood or DNA tests are known, the parties will once again have the option to consent to an order of paternity or to request a hearing. If the case goes to a hearing, it is up to the party seeking to establish paternity to prove paternity by clear and convincing evidence. The parties are not required to accept the results of the tests, but challenges to DNA testing are very difficult and can be very expensive.
Legal recognition of paternity is necessary to obtain an enforceable order for child support and to establish parenting time for the father. Click here to find out more about protecting your rights as a father.
Arizona law provides that a fathers’ consent to the adoption of his child is not needed if:
The father was not married to the mother at the time of birth,
If the father has not legally adopted the child, or
If the fathers’ paternity has not been established according to law.
A father must be served notice advising him of the proposed adoption of his child and giving him 30 days to initiate a paternity proceeding in the Superior Court and to serve notice to the mother. If the father does not initiate a paternity action speedily and completely, he will be barred from asserting his interests in the child; meaning he legally forfeits all rights. This is a drastic result and may unfairly affect fathers who cannot afford the cost of a Superior Court lawsuit on 30 days notice.
Contact A Family Law Attorney Today.
Our Arizona fathers’ rights lawyers at Platt & Westby, P.C., offer payment plans and options to make our legal services available and affordable so that your legal rights and relationships are not sacrificed due to a temporary shortage of funds. Fathers who have not yet had their paternity formally established according to law should do so now.
Contact our office or call 602-277-4441 to speak with one of our experienced Arizona family law attorneys at Platt & Westby, P.C., for help with a paternity claim, or any related paternity questions.