Paternity means fatherhood. Arizona law requires that both parents of a child be responsible for the child’s upbringing. While it is generally fairly easy to determine the mother of the child, the identity of the father may require proof. If a man admits paternity then he automatically assumes the responsibilities of raising a child. If a man denies paternity, the mother may file a paternity suit. If the mother proves that he is the father, he may be required not only to provide back, current and future child support, but also to pay for the cost of pregnancy and childbirth expenses.
DNA testing can produce nearly conclusive proof of paternity using blood or saliva as its source. It can also determine with nearly one hundred percent accuracy that a specific man is not the father of a child. Once paternity is established, the father must pay support for the child as ordered. If the father refuses to pay, the court may garnish his wages, seize his property and bank accounts or even send him to jail.
Paternity concerns the financial responsibilities of the father and usually takes the form of child support. It is also important to establish paternity so that the parents can finalize legal decision-making and parenting time rights. A legal judgment of paternity will entitle the child to receive a portion of the father’s estate, titles or inheritances. The child of a deceased father has the rights to survivor’s benefits and Social Security benefits paid by the federal and state governments.
Merely having a putative father’s name on a birth certificate does not prove paternity. A birth certificate is one element of proof as is having sexual relations with the mother within ten months of the child’s birth. Paternity is not fully and finally established without a judicial adjudication (judgment) of paternity.
* The information contained in this message is general and should not substitute for the advice and counsel of a licensed attorney.