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Establishing Paternity

How do I establish paternity?

An action may be brought to establish the paternity of a child born out of wedlock, to compel the support of the child, and to establish visitation rights. The action may be filed by the mother, father, guardian, or a public welfare official of the county where the child resides or may be found. The party initiating the action do so by filing a Complaint in Paternity and Summons.

What should I do if someone I am not married to is pregnant and I want to ensure that she does not give the child up for adoption?

A person who is seeking paternity, and who wants to receive notice of adoption proceedings, and who is the father or claims to be the father of a child must file a notice of his claim of paternity and his willingness to support the child with the registrar of vital statistics. The notice may be filed before the birth of the child, but must be filed within thirty days of the birth of the child. A.R.S. § 8-106.01, § 25-812, and § 36-322.

Will I have to take a blood test?

The court may on its own motion or the motion of any party to the proceedings order blood or DNA testing. If the alleged father does not admit paternity, then he will have to take a blood test to determine paternity. Blood test can be arranged through The Arizona Department of Economic Security, Division of Child Support Enforcement, for a minimal fee. However, the blood tests can also be taken at private companies if the parties agree or request it.

What are my support obligations once Paternity is established?

After a finding of paternity, the court shall determine the amount of past support to be paid. The court will not order past support back further than three years from the beginning of the proceeding unless it finds there is good cause. In determining good cause the court will consider:

  1. The circumstances, conduct or motivation of the party who claims entitlement to past support in not seeking an earlier establishment of maternity or paternity.
  2. The circumstances, conduct or motivation of the party from whom past support is sought in impeding the establishment of maternity or paternity.
  3. The diligence with which service of process was attempted on the defendant. A.R.S. § 25-809(B). A father may also be ordered to pay the expenses of the childbirth. A.R.S. § 12-809(C).

How Do I Establish Child Custody and Visitation Rights

The establishment of paternity alone does not create custody or visitation rights. Once paternity is established the non-custodial parent has to file a petition to establish custody and visitation. See Child Custody page.

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