If you’re a dad who is currently in a custody battle for your child, or you expect to be in one soon, it’s important to understand how father’s rights work in Arizona. Understanding Arizona family law concerning fathers will help you to do what needs to be done to establish your rights and ensure you don’t miss out on important time with your child.
Married Fathers Rights in Arizona
In Arizona, if you were married at the time of your child’s birth, you’re automatically considered the father. This is helpful for one major reason: In Arizona, both parents are considered equally important to their child’s development. Because Arizona courts try to make all decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child, the tendency is to share both decision making rights and parenting time between the parents as equally as possible. Perfectly equal division may not always be possible, depending on the circumstances, but as long as there is not a reason for the court to decide otherwise, you should enjoy equal rights to your child as their mother has.
Unmarried Fathers Rights
If you and the child’s mother were not married at the time of your child’s birth, your paternity is not automatic, and you may need to jump through a few hoops to establish that you’re the father. Until you prove your paternity, you have no rights to your child, but once you establish paternity, you’ll have the same rights as a father who was married to the mother when the child was born. That is to say that as long as the courts don’t have a reason to be concerned about your involvement in your child’s life, you’ll most likely enjoy a fairly equal division of parenting rights between you and your co-parent.
How To Establish Paternity
Establishing paternity may seem like a scary process, but most of the time it can be resolved fairly easily. Your name on the birth certificate is considered proof of paternity, for example, or both you and the mother can sign a form voluntarily confirming your paternity. If neither of these options are available to you, you can still establish paternity by petitioning the court, and the court will order a paternity test. No matter how your paternity is established, once you are confirmed to be the father, you will have the same rights as a father who was married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth.
The Importance of a Father’s Rights Attorney
This time can be an extremely vulnerable time for a parent, especially a dad, and the wrong decisions could cost you invaluable parenting time with your child. A misstep could also prolong the legal battle or set you up for additional litigation later on. For the protection of your rights and your relationship with your child, it’s important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side, someone who is knowledgeable about everything a father must do to preserve his rights in court.
For more information about father’s rights in Arizona, or to discuss you individual situation, call Simon Law Group, PLLC, today and schedule a consultation.