Establishing Paternity: Legal Procedures and Implications

Establishing Paternity: Legal Procedures and Implications

Establishing paternity in Arizona is the legal process of determining the biological father of a child. The legal process is often common among unmarried parents. For a married couple, the law presumes the husband to be the biological father of any child born to the couple. However, for an unmarried couple (they may be married to other people), there are no such presumptions.

Without establishing paternity, the child’s father may not be able to assert their parental right if they are not married to the mother. For instance, the individual may not be able to seek visitation or child custody rights. Some mothers in this situation may even decide to withhold some parental rights, including visitation and any type of contact with the child.

Accordingly, there is a need to establish paternity to prove that the man is the biological father of the child and to enforce his parental rights. On the flipside, some men deny they are the fathers to avoid parental obligations. In such cases, a woman can seek to establish paternity to ensure a man fulfills his child support obligations. However, most cases of paternity establishment involve men seeking enforceable parental rights.

Parental disputes are often detrimental to all parties involved, including the child. It is therefore important to seek legal help when establishing paternity to ensure a peaceful process. In this article, we will explore how to establish paternity in Arizona, including procedures, rights, and responsibilities of the parties involved.

Why is Establishing Paternity Important?

Establishing paternity has various effects and is important for unmarried fathers, unmarried mothers, and same-sex couples. However, establishing paternity is critical for the child as it protects their right to know and be cared for by both parents. It also gives the child a sense of identity.

Both parents must provide and act in the child’s best interest. However, a parent who can’t make legal decisions for the child or has no contact with the child, including visitation rights is limited on ways to fulfill their parental obligations. Arizona law protects a parent’s custody and visitation rights, hence the importance of establishing paternity.

Besides helping enforce a father’s right to seek custody and visitation rights, establishing paternity also helps protect the child’s right to inherit the father. It also allows parents to include a child in their health and life insurance coverage. A child is also able to access the medical history of both sides of their family.

Establishing paternity also establishes both parents’ financial responsibilities to the child. It ensures a man pays child support for their child. Notably, Arizona cannot issue child support orders where there is a parental dispute until the legal establishment of paternity.

How Arizona Establish Paternity

There are several ways or methods of establishing paternity in Arizona, including:

  1. Voluntary acknowledgment. In this case, the unmarried parents sign an acknowledgment of paternity form at the time of the child’s birth. The form that they file with the Department of Child Safety Services (DCSS) becomes a straightforward way of establishing paternity. The signing of the birth certificate is also a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.
  2. Arizona also establishes paternity through presumption, especially for married parents. The law also presumes a man to be a father of any child born within ten months after the end of a marriage.
  3. Court process. Where there is no agreement on paternity, one of the parents or an interested party can file a petition with the court to establish paternity. The judicial process involves having a DNA genetic test to identify the biological father of the child.

There are instances where the court can pass a default judgment, including when a father fails to show up for a court-ordered DNA genetic test. A default judgment can also occur when a father fails to file a timely response to the petition to establish paternity. Once the court enters a judgment, the father must fulfill their obligations, including paying child support.

Why You Need a Lawyer When Establishing Paternity

For many parents, establishing paternity is only the start of a long journey of legal disputes. Even after the court identifies you as the father, you still need to establish parental rights, including child custody, and visitation rights. For instance, you need to file a separate petition for visitation orders once the court establishes paternity.

You also need to deal with possible resistance from the other parent who can intentionally make co-parenting hard. You may need to go back to the court to enforce some parental rights. Since establishing paternity is primarily a legal process, a skilled family law attorney can help you navigate the legal complexities, including enforcing your parental rights. They will also help you file or timely respond to a court petition and avoid a default judgment.

Contact a Tucson Paternity Establishment Lawyer

The main objective of establishing paternity is to protect the child and ensure they are cared for by both parents. However, the process also protects the right of the father to know, contact, and support their child. But, establishing paternity can be complex and emotional. You may need a skilled paternity establishment lawyer to help you navigate the complexities.

If you are facing a paternity lawsuit or are seeking to establish paternity in Tucson, AZ, contact our skilled and experienced Tucson paternity establishment lawyer at Liberty Audette and Associates. We will help you navigate the paternity establishment process. We will also offer legal support in all subsequent processes, including child custody cases. Contact us to schedule a consultation and learn more about our services.


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