Parents in the state of Arizona have a huge responsibility, both morally and legally, to provide for their children. Parents also have rights associated with parentage, such as the right to make legal decisions about a child regarding their education, upbringing, or healthcare, as well as the right to spend time with the child.
For mothers and fathers in Mesa and surrounding areas, establishing maternity and paternity is critical. Not only does the establishment of parentage help to ensure that the child’s needs are met (i.e. a court can order a parent to pay child support once parentage is established if parents are separated), but it also helps to protect the parent’s right to legal decision making and parenting time with the child. To learn more or discuss what legal options may be available, seek the help of a child custody lawyer in Mesa today.
How Parentage Is Established in Arizona
For mothers, maternity in Arizona is established at the time of the child’s birth. If the mother is not the natural mother of the child (i.e. the child is adopted), then maternity must be established through legal proceedings.
For fathers, though, paternity is not always automatically established at the time of a child’s birth. In fact, paternity is only automatically established at the time of a child’s birth if the parents are married. If the child’s parents are unmarried, there are a number of ways that the parents can approach establishing paternity, including:
- Signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form at the time of the child’s birth;
- Going to court to establish paternity; and
- Filing an acknowledgment of paternity form through the Division of Child Support Services.
What Happens if Paternity is Unclear?
In some cases, a mother may not know who the father of her child is, or a man may deny that he is the child’s biological father. When this is the case, parents can work with the Division of Child Support Services, or file a motion with the court, to obtain an order for genetic testing to establish paternity. Either party – i.e. the mother or the alleged father – may request paternity genetic testing. Who will pay for the testing will be determined by the court. If genetic testing reveals that there is a probability of 95 percent or greater that the man is the father of a child, then the court has “clear and convincing evidence” to make a declaration of paternity, and the individual is presumed to be the father (see: Arizona Revised Statutes 25-807). From there, other relevant court proceedings, such as those regarding a child support order, will ensue.
Paternity and Fathers’ Rights and Obligation – What You Need to Know
If genetic testing reveals that a man is indeed the father of a child, then he is subject to all obligations and rights that accompany paternity. For example, he may petition the court for legal decision making power or parenting time with the child, and if he is not granted full parenting time, he will be obligated to make child support payments. Mothers are not favored in Arizona court systems by virtue of them being mothers alone; when a court makes a determination about child custody (legal decision making power and parenting time), it must consider all factors relevant to a child’s best interests.
How an Experienced Mesa Paternity/Maternity Attorney Can Help You
Questions about who is the father of a child can be unsettling, and may leave you with questions about whether you will be entitled to child support, or if you’re the father, whether you will have to pay child support, and whether or not you will be permitted to see and spend time with your child. At the offices of Modern Law, PLLC, we can help you to understand the state’s laws regarding paternity and maternity and associated rights and obligations, establish paternity, request genetic testing, and more. Once paternity is established, we can also help you to secure custody or a child support order.
Contact Our Law Firm Today
Our Mesa paternity/maternity attorney understands what you are going through. While the Division of Child Support Services can be a great resource, working with our law firm may be a more direct, faster, and effective option as we will prioritize your case and put you first. Our attorneys have the experience your case deserves, and the knowledge of the law that your case demands. To schedule a consultation with our Mesa paternity/maternity attorney today, please contact our law offices by calling us, using our online form to write us a message, or texting us now.