A man’s parental rights should not be left to the whim of others. When it comes to your legal privileges as a parent, it is critical to be proactive and take action to protect your rights. At the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC, we work alongside fathers to acknowledge paternity by registering your place on the putative father registry in Arizona.
Who Is a Putative Father?
A man who has not legally established his fatherhood, but who asserts his relationship with the child and wants to confirm paternity moving forward, is considered a putative father. With the number of non-marital births increasing over recent decades, there is an increased focus on unmarried fathers, their legal rights, and their role in the upbringing of their children.
Historically, putative fathers have been afforded fewer rights and privileges to their children compared to both unwed mothers and married couples. Over the years, putative fathers have challenged the termination of their parental rights in situations where the mother chooses to give the child up for adoption. The creation of the putative father registry is an attempt to bridge this gap and expand the rights of unmarried fathers.
What Is a Putative Father Registry?
Several states have provisions for a father to acknowledge his paternity on a voluntary basis. Putative father registries provide for the voluntary acknowledgement of paternity through a government-recognized database. Acknowledgement of paternity is important because it grants the father the right to be notified of any court proceedings regarding the child and protects the father from fraud by providing legal notice of a planned adoption.
Does Arizona Have a Putative Father Registry?
Yes, as a father-friendly state, Arizona does have a putative father registry to help protect fathers’ rights. According to Arizona Revised Statutes § 8-106.01, a person who is the father (or claims to be the father) and wants to receive notice of adoption proceedings can file notice of a claim of paternity with the state registrar of vital records in the Department of Health Services. The registry is confidential and separate from other state databases.
Why Is the Putative Father Registry Important?
Fathers who have not established paternity often do not understand the implications of the situation until they hear about a father who has effectively lost contact with his children. Establishing paternity is important because it ensures your legal rights as a father and grants certain privileges to your children, including the right to inheritance, fathers medical and insurance benefits, Social Security benefits, and veterans’ benefits, for instance.
If the child’s mother decides to put the child up for adoption or a report of neglect has resulted in the child being removed from the home, you may have no recourse to object or seek custody unless you have acknowledged paternity. While caseworkers have a responsibility to perform due diligence and try to identify the father in these situations, not acknowledging paternity early on can slow the process.
Putative father registries do not force a father to identify himself. Rather, they level the playing field so a father can assert his paternal rights and take an active role in making key decisions regarding the health and interests of his child. Too often, the voices of unknown or unnamed fathers go unheard during the adoption process. Many fathers are not given the opportunity to choose whether to parent their child or participate in the adoption process. The putative father registry is important to solidifying the rights of the father.
What Information Is Required for Registration?
To register on the putative father registry in Arizona, you must file a Notice of Claim of Paternity with the Office of Vital Records. Your claim must include the following information:
- Name of the child, if known
- Your name and address
- Birth mother’s name and last known address
- Child’s date of birth or month/year of the child’s expected birth
- Notarized signature
It is free to file a Notice of Claim of Paternity in Arizona and after the form has been received by the Office of Vital Records, you will receive a letter confirming that you have been added to the registry.
Who Can Access the Arizona Putative Father Registry?
The Arizona putative father registry is confidential, but certain parties can submit a written inquiry to search the registry. These parties include:
- Juvenile Division of the Superior Court
- Department of Child Safety
- Licensed adoption agencies
- Attorneys who are assisting with a direct placement adoption
When Can I File for the Putative Father Registry?
There is a specific window of time during which you can file a Notice of Claim of Paternity. According to Arizona law, you must acknowledge paternity before the child’s birth or within 30 days of their birth. If you do not file within this timeframe, you waive your right to be notified of a judicial hearing regarding the child’s adoption unless you can prove that it was not possible for you to file the Notice of Claim of Paternity.
Not knowing about the pregnancy is not considered an acceptable reason to fail to join the registry. Arizona Revised Statutes § 8-106.01(F) states that merely having sexual relations with the mother is sufficient notice for the father. As such, it is critical to file a Notice of Claim of Paternity as soon as possible to avoid roadblocks down the line.
Discuss Your Next Steps With the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC Today
At the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC, we regularly receive calls from worried fathers who are being denied access to their child. If you are in this situation, know that you are not alone. Our team has helped countless fathers acknowledge their paternity and solidify their legal rights to their children. Every father deserves the right to help raise and support his child, but parental rights cases can be incredibly complicated. Let our team help you navigate the Arizona putative father registry and establish your rights. Schedule a free consultation with us at (602) 560-7494 to get started today.