In a paternity action a party files to establish the biological father as the legal father of a child. This can be done by the Mother or Father, and can also include a claim for child support, legal decision-making (custody) or parenting time. A person bringing the action does not have to be a resident of Arizona to bring the action.
It is necessary to establish paternity only in cases where the Mother and Father were never legally married. A paternity action does not necessarily involve the use of DNA testing as an acknowledgement of paternity can be sufficient. A father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity of the child or children and the court will then enter a legal finding of paternity. Paternity actions are also filed to add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.
Our Rose Law Group pc attorneys can guide you through the process of either initiating a Petition for Paternity or responding to a Paternity action brought against you by either the Mother or the State of Arizona. We can also help you file a Counter-Petition to Establish Legal Decision-Making (Custody), Parenting Time and Child Support if the State of Arizona (DES) filed for child support.
Be aware that the majority of paternity actions are initiated by the State of Arizona acting in response to a request by the Mother to establish child support. If you are served with a Petition for Paternity, you must act quickly and you should definitely speak to one of our attorneys about your rights in defending against the action and to seek legal decision-making (custody) and parenting time.
If you are a Mother to a child where paternity has never been established, family law also limits the period that you can seek retroactive child support. Our attorney can guide you through this process, to ensure that your legal rights, and your child’s best interests are protected.
Paternity Frequently Asked Questions
What is paternity?
- Paternity establishes the identity of a child’s biological father. Paternity court proceedings aim to bestow legal parenting rights and responsibilities, such as child support, on the child’s biological father. Paternity provides children the emotional wellbeing that comes from knowing with certainty the identity of their father. It also allows the child to claim money, such as social security benefits and insurance, coming from the father.
How is paternity established?
- Arizona family law lays out several ways of establishing paternity. At the child’s birth, the father may sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, which is available at hospitals and vital records offices throughout the state. If the father is not present at the child’s birth, he may later voluntarily establish paternity by signing, along with the mother, a Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity. The Division of Child Support Enforcement files this paperwork with the state. Another way of establishing paternity is through the court.
How does the court get involved?
- An unwed mother wishing to establish paternity for her child may petition the court to declare the alleged father has paternity. Responding to court papers at this time is crucial. If an alleged father does not respond, Arizona family law stipulates the court may determine he has paternity. Rose Law Group pc can offer advice regarding the best steps to take for your specific case.
When can paternity be challenged?
- Paternity can be challenged when the father doesn’t believe he is the biological father of a child for whom he has paternity, or for whom the mother is trying to establish paternity. If you would like to challenge paternity, contact us, we can help.
How can you challenge paternity?
- The first step in challenging paternity is contacting a family law attorney. You will likely want to get a genetic test to prove you are not the child’s biological father, and your family law attorney can petition the court to ask for one. The court will order you to get tested, along with the child and the mother. Once the test proves you are not the father, the court will not consider you to have paternity.
What are your rights during a paternity suit?
- During a paternity suit, you have the right to ask for a genetic test to prove you are or are not the father. You have the right to hire a family law attorney to ensure that your side is heard. You are also not required to pay any child support or other related costs unless the court orders that you have paternity.
How can Rose Law Group help you?
- We can guide you through the process of challenging paternity or help you protect your rights if the father of your child is challenging paternity. These important decisions have life-long implications for adults and children, and you deserve the best outcome possible. The family law attorneys at Rose Law Group keep up with the latest laws so you can be assured you have the best representation available for your case.
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