Arizona law protects a father’s right to create an emotional bond and connection with their child and there’s no doubt of importance of a father’s presence in their child’s life. But unwed fathers of children have no claim on their child legally. To pursue any legal action regarding the child, the father must establish legal paternity.
What Is the Definition of Paternity?
Paternity is the official establishment of the identity of a child’s father recognized by a court of law.
What Are the Benefits of Acknowledging Paternity?
Identifying paternity benefits both the father and the child. Once paternity is officially established, the father can legally pursue rights to their child, such as legal decision-making, custody, and visitation. The father can also assume the responsibility to provide child support, which parent is responsible for health insurance, allocation of co-pays and claiming the child on taxes.. A paternity determination also helps the child, who has a right to know his or her father and to benefit from a relationship with both parents. The child also has a right to receive financial support from both parents.
Establishing paternity can benefit the child in other ways as well. It will be easier for the child to learn about their father’s medical history, which could potentially affect them, and to benefit from health care available to the father. It will also be easier for the child to inherit through the father or to receive possible benefits (Veteran’s Affairs or Social Security).
Legally Acceptable Ways to Establish Paternity
- Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form – The purpose of this form is to acknowledge paternity for a child that is born out of wedlock. It is voluntarily signed by both the mother and father of the child who must both agree to the paternity of the child. This form does not guarantee custody or visitation rights, nor does it establish the amount of child support.
- Petition for Establishment of Paternity – The father isn’t the only one who can pursue paternity. According to Arizona state law, the following individuals or groups can file a petition to establish paternity of a child:
- The mother of the child
- The “custodian” of the child (if the child is living with and being cared for by a guardian or 3rd party)
- A government agency that provides health insurance or welfare benefits to the child
In the event that the paternity of a child is not voluntarily acknowledged by both parents, a court can order a blood test or some form of genetic testing in order to confirm paternity. The child’s birth certificate is not a paternity determination since the father’s name can be whoever the mother of the child wants or thinks may be the father.
If you are an unwed father and need assistance to establish paternity and gain legal rights to your child, Simon Law Group can help! Our capable team is experienced in family law, helping to support individuals, couples, parents, and families through all aspects of the legal process. Contact us today online or via phone at (480) 568-1141 to get started.