Ensure Your Rights as a Father are Protected by Establishing Paternity

It may seem obvious to you that you’re the father of your child, but to the court of Arizona, it may not be so clear. Before you’re able to argue for your rights as a father in a divorce, you must establish with the court that you are the father of your children; otherwise, you won’t have any legal standing. Depending on your circumstances, there are different ways to establish your paternity.

How can I Establish Paternity of my Child?

If you and your spouse were married during the 10 months before the child’s birth, or the child was born within 10 months of a divorce, you are presumed to be the father of that child. If circumstances dictate that this may not be the case, this presumption can be challenged with evidence in court. For most parents, however, this will be all that is needed to establish paternity.

In the case that you and your spouse were unmarried during the child’s birth, paternity will need to be established after the fact. The first chance at establishing paternity is by signing the birth certificate. While this may still be challenged later on, if your name is on the child’s birth certificate, you are presumed to be the father. 

If you miss the opportunity to sign the birth certificate, both you and the other parent may sign an acknowledgment of paternity. This is a legal, voluntary agreement to establish paternity, and will presume you as the father of your child. This document may still be disputed and can be rescinded within 60 days if necessary. 

If either parent disputes the paternity of a child, DNA testing can be used to prove paternity. Arizona law specifies that a DNA paternity test must confirm at least a 95% chance of paternity to be considered legitimate, but if a DNA test is used, it is indisputable. If either party does not consent to the DNA test, you may file a petition to gain a court order, mandating that the test be conducted.

While establishing paternity does not guarantee your rights as a father, such as custody of your children, it’s a critical first step to fighting for your rights and necessary to being heard by the court. Without it, you lack any legal standing to argue for what you want in a divorce case. For assistance in establishing paternity, and your divorce proceedings, contact Monahan Family Law at (623) 385-3190 to set up a consultation today.

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