In a previous post, we discussed a few reasons why it is important to legally establish paternity if you are unmarried or unsure of a child's parentage. Among those reasons were the right to pursue child support, the right to request custody, and information about a child's cultural and biological background.
In this post, we will discuss how you can establish paternity if you live in Arizona. There are two ways to do this: voluntarily or with a court order.
Voluntarily acknowledging paternity
If there are no doubts about a child's father, parents will both sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form. Often, parents do this at the hospital after the child is born. However, at any point until a child turns 18, parents can complete the form at a Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) office.
Court orders to establish paternity
Should there be questions or doubts about a child's father, DCSS and the courts can get involved. In situations where parties are cooperative but unsure of paternity, genetic testing can be done. Genetic testing is effective for either ruling out or establishing the probability of paternity. When the testing identifies the biological father, a court order is filed.
If parties are not cooperative, DCSS can open a case. There may be a court hearing scheduled for a judge to make decisions regarding paternity and related matters, like child support.
Navigating the legal process
Whether you are a mother, presumed father, or a man alleged to be a child's father, it helps to have legal counsel as you navigate the legal system regarding paternity. The outcome is crucial not just for you, but also for the child involved, so it is vital that you take your rights and options seriously.