If you are a father, you have the legal responsibility to provide support for your minor child unless the mother is willing and able to totally financially support the child and does not want your help. Even if you do not want a role in raising the child, once paternity has been established, your financial assistance will be required. If you do want to get involved and if a paternity test shows you are the father, you can make a legal claim for custody or visitation.
There are several ways paternity can be established in Arizona,
• There is a voluntary process by the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) where unmarried parents come to a DCSS office and open a case to establish paternity and child support. This Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is completed by both parents and filed by DCSS.
• If paternity is unclear or denied, either party can have genetic testing done at the local DCSS office. If the results are 95% or greater, the agency files the results with a Request for an Order of Paternity to the court. The parents would receive a copy of this order.
• DCSS may refer the case to the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for a court hearing to determine paternity and seek a child support order if one of the potential parents is uncooperative.
• A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity establishing legal parentage completed by the parents can be filed with the court or an administrative agency.
• Unwed parents can avoid DCSS and opt to establish paternity and potentially have a child support order issued through the state court system. This will entail fees and costs, but enables the parties to have more control over the process, instead of a state agency. In most cases, the court orders DNA tests to determine paternity.
Whether you are the mother of a child seeking assistance or find yourself facing claims that you’re the father of a child in Arizona, the family law attorneys at Cohen Family Law in Phoenix can help. They routinely guide clients through the complex paternity process and provide representation in child support and custody cases. Call 602-714-8898 to schedule your free consultation.