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DNA testing to establish paternity in Arizona

| Aug 14, 2019 | Child Support, Child Support |

Judges in Arizona and around the country will generally rely on DNA evidence to determine paternity, as the results of these tests are incredibly accurate. DNA tests are usually ordered to identify the biological father of a child in child support cases, but they may also provide crucial evidence when fathers are seeking custody or visitation rights. When alleged fathers in Arizona refuse to cooperate by providing a tissue sample for DNA testing, the Office of the Attorney General may get involved to compel them to do so.

The results of DNA tests can be used to establish paternity years after a child is born. Rock star Mick Jagger and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs were both identified as the fathers of children born out of wedlock in this way. When paternity is established years later, child support may be awarded retroactively. In Arizona, up to three years of retroactive child support can be awarded.

The tissue used to perform DNA tests is usually collected with a cheek swab. This method is used because it is non-invasive, painless and the cells collected are almost identical to blood cells. Establishing a clear chain of custody is extremely important when DNA test results will be used in legal proceedings. In Arizona, all samples must be collected at medical facilities that are part of the Hospital Paternity Program run by the Department of Child Services.

Establishing paternity is not the only obstacle custodial parents face when biological fathers are unwilling to pay child support. Fathers sometimes work under an assumed name or take off-the-books jobs to hide their income, and they may even move to another state to avoid their responsibilities. In these situations, experienced family law attorneys may ask their investigators to use skip tracing methods to locate fathers so that legal proceedings can begin.

Source: The Arizona State Legislature, “Child support; factors; methods of payment; additional enforcement provisions; definitions”, accessed on Aug. 11, 2019