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You are not the father: Paternity issues and divorce in Arizona

Arizona fathers facing a divorce that involves paternity issues may be interested in a recent Michigan court's ruling. The case centered on a married woman who had a child with another man. When the child was born in 2011, both husband and wife assumed the child was the husband's, and the law presumed so also. This is because in many states, the child of a married woman is automatically considered the husband's child. The couple divorced in 2013, the now ex-husband moved to another state and he was awarded generous visitation rights with his child.

Shortly after the divorce, it was discovered that the ex-husband was not the child's biological father. The wife married the biological father and they live with the child. She sought to terminate her ex-husband's paternity. The trial court denied her claim and agreed with her ex-husband, indicating that the visitation order presumed he was the father. However, an appellate court agreed with the mother, noted that the order doesn't establish paternity, and sent the case back to the trial court.

Fathers' rights when it comes to paternity can be emotionally charged. As noted, many states will presume that the father of a child born to his wife is also his. A married father wishing to deny paternity usually has to prove certain elements to the Court before paternity will be changed. In many cases, if the mother wasn't married at the time of conception, both the parents can agree to paternity. If one does not agree, a DNA test can be administered.

Once established, a child support order can be granted and the father ordered to make support payments. It also opens the door to a custody or visitation arraignment. When determining such issues, courts will often look to more than just the biology of the child, also considering factors such as the father's relationship with the child and the best interests of the child. Paternity and fathers rights are a specialized area of family law; an Arizona attorney with paternity experience can provide sound advice.

Source: Theoaklandpress.com, "Appellate court backs biological father's rights in Macomb County case," Jameson Cook, July 16, 2014

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