Many families in America today look different than they did 50 years ago. People start families at all ages it seems, and, in many different ways as well - adoption, surrogates and "mixed" family situations can be found throughout the country. One of the most common scenarios that can present legal issues is unwed fathers who want to establish paternity.
These days, many children are born to parents who are not married. This is a vastly different societal change than what was seen 50 years ago. There is not much of a stigma to being born "out of wedlock" anymore, and, with good reason - children don't choose their parents, or the relationship status of their parents. But, legal issues can potentially be a bit more complex when it comes to children who are born to unmarried parents.
In America today, it is more common than ever that the parents of a child are not married. In some cases, the parents of the child aren't even involved in a relationship. When this occurs, the parties will likely approach the issue of establishing paternity at some point. Establishing paternity is important so that the parties can confirm that the man is the father of the child, and, from there, issues such as child custody, child support and fathers' rights can be addressed. But, is the process of establishing paternity infallible? The unfortunate answer is "no."
Not all children who are born in Arizona are born to a husband and wife. In fact, recent statistics have shown that the number of children who are being born outside the bounds of marriage has increased quite a bit over the last several years. When a child is born to a married husband and wife, there is a presumption that the husband is the father of the child. However, when a child is born to a couple who are not married, it may be necessary to establish the paternity of the child.
There have been previous assumptions in Arizona that in the court of law with regards to child custody, the mother was assumed to have a stronger role with regards to being a child's caregiver, and therefore would be more likely to gain child custody during divorce proceedings. The courts, however, have always followed the protocol that there is no discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or race.
Some in Tempe, Arizona or the greater Phoenix metro area might take some umbrage at the term fathers' rights, as if it implies the mom of a child has been depriving something that all dads deserve, no matter what the circumstances.
Many people in the Tempe, Arizona area, as well as greater Phoenix, may be under the common perception that in a child custody dispute, the child's mother has an automatic edge in that it easier for her to get custody than it is for a father to do so. This perception is likely based on the historical trend that when, a couple splits, children usually live with their mothers.
When an unmarried father wishes to establish his paternity of his child, the usual procedure followed is his signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. This document will establish his rights and responsibilities with respect to his child. There is usually no question that the person who signs a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity is the father of the child in question.
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.
There is a saying that suggests the one thing that stays the same is change. That may never be more true in light of the different forms that the family has assumed in the past several years. One aspect that may need constant vigilance, however, is ensuring that parents' rights are always protected. Most likely, there are many families residing in Arizona that have experienced the changes that have served to reconfigure the make-up of modern families.