Dads have the right to play a significant role in the lives of their children through regular access, visitation and other custody rights. If you are an Arizona father who is not married to the mother of your children or are fighting for your custody rights after a divorce, knowing how paternity laws work could be critical to your success. Biological parents have rights, and you may need to protect the relationship you have with your kids.
Paternity is the legal recognition of a child’s biological father. For couples that are married, there is an assumption of paternity when a child is born. However, this issue can be more complicated when the parents are not married, or the mother is either disputing the father’s identity or unsure of who it is. Mothers may also want to establish paternity for the reason of securing child support.
The importance of paternity
Simply having your name on a child’s birth certificate is not enough to legally establish paternity. While in many cases DNA testing is a simple way to establish paternity, legally there are other ways to do this, including if the mother signs a legitimization form. Everyone will benefit from the establishment of paternity, particularly the child. One cannot underestimate the legal significance of this step, with some of the benefits including:
- It will clearly establish financial security for the child as the non-custodial parent will likely have to pay child support.
- It will provide the child with an understanding of his or her background and lay the foundation for an important relationship.
- It secures the visitation and potential custody rights of a father, allowing him to play an important role in the life of the child.
- It establishes inheritance rights for the child in the event of the death of the father, as well as allows the child to have access to important medical history and information.
Paternity could play a critical role in your rights as a father, as well as your legal and financial responsibilities. If you are unsure of how to protect your rights or where you should begin when navigating concerns related to paternity, you may benefit from an assessment of your case. An understanding of your rights and options can help you understand how to move forward with a paternity case and seek the best outcome for your kids.