When they are married when their child is born, the state of Arizona automatically recognizes the parental rights of both parents. If they part ways in the future, both have a right to a relationship with their child.
However, unmarried fathers do not necessarily have the same protections as married parents. If you are not married to your child’s mother, you may need to take additional steps to protect your rights and your relationship with your child. How can an unmarried parent establish paternity in the state of Arizona?
Can you establish paternity when your child is born?
When you welcome your child into the world, the first step you should take to establish paternity is to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital or birthing center. This option requires the mother of the child to acknowledge you as your child’s other parent. This document does not necessarily establish paternity on its own, but it is an important piece of evidence in the determination of paternity.
Can you establish paternity after your child’s birth?
Even if you were not present at the birth of your child or you did not establish paternity at the time, you can still establish paternity at a later date. If you and the child’s mother agree, you can fill out a Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity or a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity to add your name to the child’s birth certificate.
What if your child’s mother does not want you listed as your child’s father?
If you and your child’s mother do not agree, you can still protect your right to spend time with your child. Establishing paternity through court processes may involve genetic testing and other steps to establish that you are your child’s biological parent. A court order starts the process of establishing parental decision-making authority and parenting time.
If your child’s birth certificate listed another person as the father, this process would also remove that individual and add your name to the record.
While establishing paternity as an unmarried father can be a complex process, it can be an important step toward protecting your relationship with your child.