How is paternity (legal fatherhood) established?
There are several ways to establish paternity (legal fatherhood) in Arizona. In some situations, either parent will file a petition in court to have paternity legally established. In other situations, filing a court petition is not necessary because paternity is presumed (assumed).
Note: The father, the child's guardian, or the state may also file a petition to establish paternity.
Paternity is presumed (assumed) when:
- The man and the mother of the child were married at any point in the ten months immediately before the birth of the child or the child was born within ten months after the marriage ended;
- A genetic test (DNA test) states that there is at least a 95% likelihood that he is the father;
- The birth certificate of a child born to an unmarried woman is signed by both parents; or
- The parents voluntarily acknowledge paternity in a signed statement that is notarized or witnessed.1
Note: Even if one of these situations apply, the paternity may be rejected by the judge if there is “clear and convincing” evidence that leads the him/her to believe differently.2
Paternity can be established in court when a woman who is pregnant or already gave birth to the child files a petition to establish paternity and:
- The father does not file a response to the court papers or appear in court;
- The father files a response admitting paternity;3 or
- The court orders genetic tests (DNA tests) and either:
- those tests show that there is at least a 95% likelihood that he is the father;4 or
- the father, for no good reason, doesn’t take the DNA test.5
1 A.R.S. § 25-814(A)
2 A.R.S. § 25-814(C)
3 A.R.S. § 25-806 and § 25-813(1)
4 A.R.S. § 25-807(D)
5 A.R.S. § 25-813(2)