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How is Paternity Established in an Arizona Family Court Case?

When it comes to establishing paternity, Arizona law lays out four different scenarios in which a court may presume paternity. The first scenario is when the mother of the child and the alleged father were married within certain timeframes of the birth of the child. See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-814(A)(1). For example, if the mother and putative father were married at any time within the ten months immediately prior to the birth of the child, paternity is presumed. See id. Similarly, if the minor child is born within ten months after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity, dissolution (divorce) or within ten months of the entry of a decree of legal separation by a court, paternity is likewise presumed. See id.


In the second scenario, paternity may be established by genetic testing that “affirms at least a ninety-five per cent probability of paternity.” See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-814(A)(2). Once a case has been filed to determine parentage, and typically if the child was born out of wedlock or there is some other reason for parentage to be at issue before the court, the court will “order the mother, her child or children and the alleged father to submit to genetic testing . . . .” to determine the child’s parentage. See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-807(C). The testing must be conducted by an accredited laboratory. See id.


In the third scenario, “[a] birth certificate is signed by the mother and father of a child born out of wedlock.” See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-814(A)(3). In the fourth scenario, “[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.” See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-814(A)(4).


When another man is presumed to the father of a child, an acknowledgement of paternity may be effectuated by a different man only with written consent of the presumed father or after the presumption has been successfully rebutted. See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-814(B). The presumption of paternity under one of the above-described scenarios may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence (which is higher than the typical standard of proof required in family law cases) or by a court decree establishing the paternity of another man. See ARIZ. REV. STAT. ANN. § 25-814(C). “If two or more presumptions apply, the presumption that the court determines, on the facts, is based on weightier considerations of policy and logic will control.” Id.


If you are considering initiating or are involved in a family court action involving a dispute about a minor child’s parentage and need the guidance of an experienced and compassionate law firm, do not hesitate to contact Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC to set up a consultation and discuss your options.


Disclaimer: This publication is for educational and informational purposes only, and represents Huffman-Shayeb Law, PLLC’s understanding of the present state of Arizona law. This publication does not constitute legal advice or counsel, and should not be construed as a comment on the merits of any particular case. It should be noted that the laws and requirements of the State of Arizona may change at any time and that this information may not be complete or correct.