Paternity/Maternity is a legal process whereby an actual or suspected biological parent determines a legal relationship with a child when the parents were never married. This type of action may be initiated in Arizona to simply determine a legal relationship, to gain child support, or in conjunction with a custody and parenting time action. The proceeding may be initiated by a father, mother, guardian or state agency or child welfare agency. If a Petition is filed against a father who does not believe himself to be the biological parent of the child, the father may request a laboratory testing in order to determine whether he is the biological parent. If testing proves the party to be the biological father the Court can then establish a legal order declaring him to be the biological parent. Parties who agree that they are the biological parents of the child can simply stipulate this fact by signing an acknowledgement form or simply agreeing in Court as to the parentage of the child in order to establish the initial court orders as to the biological parents. The Court will presume a man to be the biological father of a minor child in the following circumstances under A.R.S. 25-814:
1. He and the mother of the child were married at any time in the ten months immediately preceding the birth or the child is born within ten months after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity or dissolution of marriage or after the court enters a decree of legal separation.
2. Genetic testing affirms at least a ninety-five per cent probability that he is the parent.
3. A birth certificate is signed by the mother and father of a child born out of wedlock.
4. A notarized or witnessed statement is signed by both parents acknowledging paternity or separate substantially similar notarized or witnessed statements are signed by both parents acknowledging paternity.
This action may be filed either while the Mother is pregnant with the child at issue or after the birth of the child. If an action is started while the Mother is pregnant, she may request the Court reserve entry of orders for custody, parenting time or child support until the child’s true parentage can be determined by a DNA paternity test.
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