Paternity rights are essentially the rights of a father. Establishing paternity rights can affect anyone who has children out of wedlock, as well as those who are married, but the father of the child is not the husband. While it might seem simple, it’s not just enough to know who the father of the child is. It requires that the person is considered the father according to the law.

In Arizona, it is presumed that the husband of the mother is the father, which means that paternity is automatically established for that person. However, when the husband is not the father, an affidavit or acknowledgment of paternity needs to be filled out. Below, we’ll learn more about how to establish paternity and why it is so important.

Ways to Establish Paternity

It’s possible to establish paternity in several ways in Arizona. As mentioned, when the couple is married, it’s presumed that the father is the husband. However, not everyone is married.

When at the hospital or birthing center, signing the Acknowledgement of Paternity form that’s available for unwed parents will establish paternity. After it’s signed, the birth recorders and nurses can help to legally establish the paternity.

Another method of establishing paternity rights would be for both of the parents to go to a Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) office and fill out the Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity form. Through the Hospital Paternity Program (HPP), hospitals, along with birthing entities, and the Arizona Bureau of Vital Records provide paternity establishment services for couples that are not married right after the birth of the child.

It’s also possible to fill out and sign the Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity form and file it with the court or an administrative agency.

In some cases, a parent might be uncooperative when it comes to establishing paternity. These cases will often be referred to the Assistant Attorney General’s office for a court hearing. The hearing will establish paternity and can help to set up the child support order.

Why Is Establishing Paternity Important?

Fathers should have certain rights regarding their children. However, if paternity is not established, it means that they don’t technically have any rights in the eyes of the law. Fathers who have children out of wedlock will want to make sure that paternity is established so that they can participate in the child’s life and be a parent to that child.

When paternity rights have not yet been established, it means that the father does not have any rights over what happens with their child. They can’t make decisions for their child, and the law doesn’t require that they be allowed time with the kids. Any father that wants to have a meaningful relationship with their child will need to establish paternity rights first.

Beneficial for the Child

Establishing paternity is very beneficial for the children involved. It can make it easier for them to participate in government programs, get health and life insurance, and have a medical history for both sides of their family. It ensures that they can receive survivor’s benefits, as well. More importantly, it can help to give the children a sense of identity and help them to feel more loved. It’s always good to have both parents involved in the child’s life.

What Information Could Be Needed to Establish Paternity for Absent Fathers?

In some cases, certain men might not want to take on the responsibility of being a parent. However, this does not mean they can shirk their duties, especially when it comes to child support.

Before any child support court orders can be established or enforced, paternity has to be established. This means that if you have a child with someone and want them to pay for child support, you will need to first establish paternity.

Mothers that want to establish paternity for absent fathers will likely want to have as much information about the other person as possible. This can help to make it easier to find them and to ensure they are named legally as the father. Sometimes, these men are notoriously difficult to find.

Some of the types of information that should be gathered include their name, date of birth, address, and Social Security Number. The name and address of current or recent employers and the names of friends or relatives would help, as well. Names of organizations to which he belongs might make it easier to track him down, too.

Physical descriptions or photographs are helpful. Written statements, such as notes and letters, where the supposed father implies or says that he is the father of the child could be important to have, as well.

What If You’re Not the Father?

What happens if a former partner tries to establish that you are the father, but you do not believe that it’s true? If you feel that she may be trying to get you to take care of and pay for a child that is not yours, you can request genetic testing. This will prove whether you are or are not the father.

Although some might feel that this is something people who don’t want to take responsibility do, that’s not the case. The cost of raising a child and paying child support is high, and it’s not fair for someone to be required to pay by the court system if they are not actually the father. In some cases, this is the best course of action. This will allow the mother to determine who the actual father is, so the child can hopefully have a relationship with that person.

Get in Touch with a Family Law Professional

If you have any questions or concerns about establishing paternity rights and what you need to do, it’s a good idea to consult with a family law attorney. They can help you to better understand the rights you have, what needs to be done to establish paternity, etc. Find someone who has experience with this area of the law.