Paternity must be legally established before family courts can enter orders for legal decision-making and parenting time. Our top rated child custody attorneys possess extensive experience successfully representing fathers and mothers through all types of child custody disputes and we are always available for a free consultation.

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Paternity is what confers enforceable rights and legal obligations, including the obligation to provide financial support.

The term paternity is colloquially understood to refer to biological parentage. But legal paternity does not necessarily depend on a biological relationship and legal paternity is what confers rights and responsibilities, such as child support.

Legal paternity can be established by voluntary acknowledgment or by a petition filed in the family court. Usually, but not always, the issue of paternity is consolidated with establishment of legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support. Once paternity is legally established, it can be be very difficult or even impossible to disestablish even with conclusive genetic evidence. Either parent may request genetic testing during family court paternity proceedings to confirm paternity.

Paternity can be established through voluntary acknowledgment, a sworn statement signed by both parents and filed with the Department of Health Services, the Superior Court, or the Department of Economic Security. Voluntary acknowledgments of paternity are most commonly executed at the hospital after birth. When properly filed, an acknowledgment of paternity is given the same effect as a court order. Individuals have sixty days to rescind or undo an acknowledgment of paternity.

A man is presumed to be the legal father of a child if he and the mother were married at any time in the ten months immediately preceding the birth or if the birth certificate is signed by the mother and the father. This presumption can be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

Until legal paternity is established, fathers unfortunately have no enforceable rights and the mother is legally presumed to be the sole custodian of the child. But the term “Father’s Rights” is used by other family law attorneys primarily to exploit men’s fear of a gender-bias in family court. Arizona law treats both parents equally and presumes equal parenting time and joint legal decision-making are best for children. “Father’s Rights” is just a marketing gimmick. Regardless of gender, good parents are good parents. Any fathers worried about potential biases should contact us for a free consultation. Our child custody attorneys possess extensive experience representing fathers and mothers.

We try to maintain resources containing the latest information to help anyone researching Arizona child custody law or representing themselves in family court.

If you have questions about paternity, parental rights, or any other family law issue, contact us for a free consultation with an experienced attorney.


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