Arizona treats paternity much like all other jurisdictions in the United States. State lawmakers automatically assume that married couples are the parents of a child born to them. They also agree that the mother who births a child is automatically their legal parent. These legislators don’t make any assumptions about the baby’s father, though. Unmarried dads must instead take steps to establish their paternity before enjoying the rights and responsibilities that come with being a parent.
The Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCSS), Arizona Bureau of Vital Records and the state’s birthing centers and hospitals all work collaboratively to run the Hospital Paternity Program (HPP).
There are a few different ways that Arizona law allows you to establish paternity.
One of perhaps the easiest ways to do so is while you’re still at the hospital after your child’s birth. You can generally secure an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) and sign it in the presence of the hospital’s nurses or birth recorder while there.
If you don’t get the chance to sign an AOP while at the hospital, then you and the child’s mother can travel to a DCSS or Vital Records office to complete a Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAAP) after the birth. HPP representatives will then submit this legal document to the court necessary to establish your paternity.
There are instances in which a biological father may not be cooperative with the paternity process. It’s in situations of the sort that you may need to open a DCCS case. They will contact the Assistant Attorney General’s Office, who will set up a court hearing to establish your child’s paternity.
The Arizona judge presiding over the court case may order your child’s suspected father to undergo deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing to confirm paternity before giving them visitation rights and ordering them to pay child support.
Many positives can come from establishing your paternity, including being able to assert your rights to custody and visitation and getting to make decisions about your child’s upbringing and health. It also obligates you to take care of your child’s financial and emotional needs. An attorney here in Scottsdale can help you establish yourself as the legal parent that your child is bound to need as they grow up here in Arizona.