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How paternity affects Arizona parents

There are many parents in Arizona. Many of these parents had their children with their spouse, while many others had children with people to whom they are not married. If a man is not married to the mother of his child, the law does not immediately recognize him as the father. In order to be legally recognized, paternity must be established.

There are a couple of ways to do this, and it is important to establish paternity because fathers' rights, including the right to receive child support or obtain visitation and custody, do not exist until paternity is established. One way to establish paternity is by having both parents sign an acknowledgement of parentage naming the man as the father. However, if this is not done, the parents must undergo genetic testing. The man will be the presumed father if the results of the genetic test indicate there is at least a 95% chance that he is the father.

Either parent can contest the results of the genetic test, though. They will have to obtain a second test with the same laboratory or they will have to complete an independent test. Once the results of a second test are known, there is typically a hearing where the judge would determine if the man is the father based on the results of the tests provided to him or her, as well as any other relevant evidence.

Many people in Arizona have children out of wedlock. This creates legal uncertainty regarding who is the father of the child. If there is a dispute, then genetic testing will be completed and each party will have an opportunity to challenge the results if they are not satisfied with them. Until paternity is established one cannot seek child support and a father cannot seek custody of the child. Paternity and custody can be confusing, which is why fathers facing paternity issues may want to think about seeking legal assistance with any issues that may arise.

Source: Arizona State Legislature, "ARS 25-807" accessed on Nov. 28, 2016

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