In general, when a child is born, there is usually little doubt about the identity of the mother. After all, she must be present at the child’s birth. Fathers, on the other hand, aren’t always present, for a variety of reasons. It is possible for a man to not know he was involved in a pregnancy, or to have the child’s mother not want him involved. Even if a father is there when a child is born, unless the parents are married, he will not legally be considered the father until paternity is established.
‘Paternity’ is the term given to legal fatherhood in Arizona. Until such time as paternity is established, the father may not have any rights vis-à-vis the child, including custody, visitation or the right to make decisions regarding the kid’s upbringing. It’s also about the child’s rights as well. Establishing paternity can give the child a right to inherit from the father or to be a beneficiary of his life and health insurance policies. Of course, establishing paternity may also entitle the child to child support payments from the father if he does not reside with the child.
So how can an unmarried man become the legal father of his child? According to Arizona Statute Section 25-814, a man will be presumed to be the father of a child in a few cases. The unmarried parents can both sign the birth certificate of the child, which will create the presumption of paternity. Alternatively, the mother and father can both sign an affidavit acknowledging that the man is the father of the child born out of wedlock. Finally, a genetic test can be done that shows a greater than 95 percent chance that the man is the father of the child.
It should be noted that the above are rebuttable presumptions and can be overcome by clear and convincing evidence. This is often especially relevant when a child is born to a woman who is still married to someone else, even if they are no longer ‘together.’ Those with question about how to preserve a father’s rights regarding a child may wish to consider consulting an experienced family lawyer.