How Does Arizona Deal With Unmarried Fathers’ Rights?

children snuggling with parent

Unmarried fathers’ rights in Arizona are limited until you take the steps necessary to establish paternity and assert your legal privileges as a parent. At the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC, we work closely with unmarried fathers to protect and exercise their rights. Our team of experienced attorneys passionately advocate for fathers’ rights and work to ensure that men across Arizona have the opportunity to be the parent they want to be for their child.

What Are Your Rights as an Unmarried Father in Arizona?

Under Arizona law, fathers who are not married to the child’s mother are not granted legal rights until paternity has been established. When your child is born, the mother will automatically become the sole legal authority.

This means that the mother can make all major decisions regarding your child’s medical treatment, education, and upbringing without your consent. Your child’s mother can also keep the child away from you, deny you visitation rights, and place the child for adoption without your consultation.

How to Establish Rights as an Unmarried Father?

Unmarried fathers are not automatically presumed to have parental rights in Arizona. In other words, a father who is not married to the child’s mother has no legal rights to the child until paternity has been legally established.

Unmarried fathers have the opportunity to establish paternity either voluntarily or with court assistance, allowing them to fully access their rights as a father. According to Arizona Revised Statutes § 25-814, an unmarried man is presumed to be the father of a child in one of the three following ways:

  • A DNA test has been performed, confirming at least 95% probability of paternity.
  • The child’s birth certificate was signed by both the mother and the father.
  • A notarized statement acknowledging paternity was signed by both parents.

Once paternity is established, you will have the opportunity to seek equal parenting time and decision-making authority for the child.

What Happens If My Child’s Mother Does Not Acknowledge Paternity?

If the mother of your child will not sign a statement acknowledging your paternity or if your name does not appear on the birth certificate, you may file a paternity action in court (Arizona Revised Statutes § 25-803). In this action, you may also ask the court for orders regarding legal decision-making and shared parenting time.

Once a paternity action is initiated, the court will order the putative father to submit to genetic testing to confirm paternity. After paternity has been established through the DNA test, both parents may move forward and negotiate a custody agreement.

What Is the Putative Fathers Registry?

The putative father’s registry is often key to establishing unmarried fathers’ rights in Arizona. As one of the few states to offer a putative fathers registry, unmarried fathers may benefit from voluntarily acknowledging their paternity using this confidential state database.

Without acknowledging your paternity, you will not be notified if the child’s mother decides to place the child for adoption or if the child has been removed from her home. It is important to note that you must register before the child’s birth or within 30 days after the child is born.

Why Is it Important to Establish Paternity?

Establishing paternity is crucial to unlocking the full range of unmarried fathers’ rights in Arizona. The courts will not grant parenting time, legal decision-making authority, or child support until paternity is established. If you are an unmarried father, establishing paternity is a necessary first step to having a relationship with your child and ensuring that you are able to play a role in their upbringing.

Moreover, establishing paternity allows unmarried fathers to give their children the opportunity to benefit from:

  • Social Security and other important governmental programs.
  • Medical and life insurance.
  • Knowledge of medical history from both sides of the family.
  • Survivors’ benefits.

Establishing paternity also helps improve your child’s sense of identity and provides a key sense of stability to the child, knowing that you will be involved in their day-to-day lives.

How Can the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC Help Protect Your Rights as an Unmarried Father?

Fathers play an integral role in their children’s development.  Unmarried fathers’ rights in Arizona are highly restricted unless you take action and establish paternity under the law. Asserting your rights as a father is essential to ensuring that you can contribute meaningfully to your child’s life, but navigating the legal landscape surrounding paternity can be daunting.

At the Law Office of Justin Fernstrom PLLC, we will help you build a strong case to protect your rights and solidify your place in your child’s life. Consider scheduling a consultation with us at (602) 560-7494 today to get started.

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