Becoming a father is a life-changing experience. Your perspective about life and what matters the most to you will likely shift drastically with fatherhood. However, fathers are sometimes in a precarious position, unlike the mother.
The biological connection between mother and child is self-evident, but there is less certainty when it comes to paternity. Establishing paternity is an important step for fathers who want to protect their rights and relationships with their children. Arizona offers four different ways for a father to establish paternity.
Have a child while married
The simplest way to establish paternity is for your wife to have a child. There is a presumption that the spouse of a pregnant woman is the father. You won’t have to take any special steps to have your name included on the birth certificate when the mother of your child is also your wife.
Fill out an Acknowledgment of Paternity after the birth
You and the mother of your child can complete and acknowledgments together right at the hospital or birthing center once you welcome your child to the world. The workers at the facility can then add your name to the birth certificate if you are not married.
Complete a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity later
Perhaps you were not present for the birth of the child or maybe you didn’t even know about their existence at first. Whatever the reason that you didn’t fill out paperwork at the hospital after your child’s birth, you will still have the option of filling out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity and having your name added to the birth certificate at any point after the birth. There is also a Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity people can fill out at the Division of Child Support Services.
Go through the courts if the mother won’t acknowledge you
Sadly, sometimes interpersonal relationships can affect parental rights. If the mother of your child doesn’t want to cooperate with your attempt to establish paternity, you may need outside help.
The Arizona family court can order genetic testing to validate your claim of paternity. If the tests do show that you are the likely father, you can then move on to ask for shared custody or at least visitation time with your child.
Formally establishing paternity will ensure that state law protects your right to be present in the life of your child.