Paternity And Parental Rights In Arizona
In this article, you will discover:
- The importance of establishing paternity in Arizona.
- How establishing paternity affects more than just child support.
- The serious question you must ask before severing your parental rights.
In Arizona, Does The Father Have Any Rights If An Unmarried Couple Has A Child?
In the state of Arizona, the father does not typically have rights to a child if the father is unmarried to their co-parent. However, rare exceptions exist. It’s not always straightforward to discern who the father of a child is. Therefore, we may be hesitant to give parental rights unless we are certain the subject is the correct father. Sometimes that’s solved in the hospital with an Acknowledgement of Paternity. Other times, fathers register with the Putative Father Registry. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Can A Potential Biological Father Demand Or Refuse A Paternity Test In Arizona?
In Arizona, sometimes a potential biological father may refuse a paternity test. This will depend on the specific circumstances. However, generally, we strongly encourage paternity testing because we simply want to know with certainty who the child’s parents are. This piece of information will allow us to properly support the children.
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When a potential biological father demands a paternity test there is an established procedure going to get paternity testing put in place.
Perhaps the mother or a family member is urging you to take a paternity test. If someone requests that the potential biological father takes a paternity test without a court order, it can be refused with no consequences. However, if the mother seeks a court order for you to take a paternity test and receives it successfully, there can be consequences for refusing it.
How Does A Father Establish Paternity In Arizona?
The easiest way to establish paternity in Arizona is by filing a paternity case. Paternity cases have become a lot more common as people are increasingly having children but don’t get married.
Filing a paternity case is a generally straightforward process. When filing a paternity case, evidence will always be required to substantiate your claim of being the potential biological father. Thus, an element of proof such as your name on the birth certificate or a signed acknowledgment of paternity will suffice. Otherwise, sometimes it is acceptable to obtain a verbal agreement that you are potentially the biological father. The reason for the requirement of evidence is that we don’t want to assume the children belong to anyone.
Once Paternity Is Established In Arizona, Is The Biological Father Required To Pay Child Support Or Back Child Support?
The biological father is not always required to pay child support once paternity is established. This will depend on the income of each party and the parenting plan at hand. Sometimes, dad establishes paternity because mom isn’t contributing in a healthy way to the dynamic of the family. Maybe mom is excessively preoccupied with other aspects of her life and therefore neglects her children, or maybe she is struggling with substance abuse disorder, and raising children with her is a risk. In this exceptional case, Dad may want to set up custody rights so he can be able to support the child adequately. In a situation like this one, the mom would probably end up paying child support.
Child support is determined by the Arizona Guidelines. Once a paternity case is started, we are going to look to see whether there was a period of support going back up to three years. Once that back support is established, we consider what the support is going to be going forward.
If A Biological Father Wishes To Relinquish Parental Rights, Can He Do So Under Arizona Law?
In Arizona, we have a procedure in place that allows us to terminate a person’s parental rights. However, severing parental rights is permanent. I would caution any parent who is thinking about severing parental rights to think that through extensively. Ask yourself, do you want to be on the hook for 18 years, stuck supporting a child you are not allowed to spend any time with?
Once you’ve severed your rights to your children, they are gone for good. However, just because you’ve severed your right to have parenting time and to make legal decisions, you still have an obligation to support the child. Until the child is adopted, you may be required to pay for support. Even if you are not allowed to see your child. That’s not an ideal situation. As an experienced family law attorney, I advise you to please think carefully about this decision; there are no do-overs or mulligans here. Once you sever your rights, they are gone for good.
If A Biological Father Is Established, Does This Automatically Give Him Custodial Rights?
Establishing paternity is one of several elements in a paternity case and does not automatically grant any individual custodial rights. You also must establish parenting time, legal decision-making, and child support. We often establish paternity first because it’s easy to get a DNA test that says you are the father or not. Additionally, we still are required to complete various other steps that may be particularly tougher if the mom is resistant to them. Ultimately, custodial rights are not based on a DNA test, they are based on the best interests of any children at hand. Thus, obtaining custody often takes a bit of work to prove.
I always encourage my clients to get temporary orders in place as soon as possible. This assists because it gives you a parenting plan for legal decision-making rights. The process to finalize a custody battle can take six to nine months. It is not advisable to wait until the end of that timeframe to finally have rights to your kid. Imagine that a judge assumes you haven’t been building a relationship with your child for at least the last six to nine months. They may limit your time with the child further, due to this.
For more information on Parental Rights for Children of Unmarried Parents, an initial consultation is your next best step.