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Establishing Paternity in Arizona

Posted by attorney Timothy Durkin

Did you know that in Arizona, just listing a father’s name on a birth certificate is not sufficient to establish paternity? If a child’s parents were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born, that child has no legal father until paternity is established. This can become a serious issue for couples who never marry but have children together.

There are many reasons why establishing paternity is important for both the child and the father. Until there is a court finding that biological father is the legal father, the child has no claim when it comes to receiving financial support or inheriting assets from the father. The child will not be eligible to obtain other potential benefits through his or her father. Benefits include things such as insurance or social security. On the other side, the father has no custodial or parenting time rights to the child until his paternity is established. Custodial rights include the right to participate in decisions regarding the child such as where the child goes to school or where and what type of medical treatment the child will receive.

In Arizona, paternity can be legally established in various ways, including:

• Voluntary establishment through the court; • Establishment by the court after a court case filing; • Establishment through the Department of Economic Security; • Establishment by automatic operation through the Department of Health Services

Establishing paternity through any of these procedures will produce the same result which is the biological father becomes the legal father.

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