As many residents of Phoenix may agree, unmarried fathers have often faced difficulties when it comes to parenting a child, the reasons for which are many. However, in recent times, the evolution of fathers' rights has led to the demise of the "tender years" doctrine, which has contributed to a great extent toward bridging the gap between a father and a child born out of wedlock.
The change happened after the United State Supreme Court acknowledged the parental rights of unmarried fathers after hearing various cases that involved termination of parental rights of unmarried fathers under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution when mothers chose to place their children for adoption without the father's consent.
According to the existing Arizona laws, a man is considered to be a legal father under the following circumstances:
- If a man and the child's mother are married any time starting from 10 months before the child's birth to 10 months after the child's birth, that man is considered to be that legal father of the child.
- A man is considered to be a legal father if paternity test results can establish the biological relationship with at least 95 percent accuracy.
- A man can be considered to be a legal father if that man and the child's mother sign a birth certificate after the child is born out of wedlock.
- A man can also be considered to be the legal father of a child if both parents sign a notarized or witnessed statement that acknowledges the paternity of the child.
Unmarried fathers in Phoenix should know that by exercising their fathers' rights and by utilizing any of the aforementioned methods, they can be able to play a significant role in the upbringing of their children even when they are born out of wedlock. However, paternity establishment can mean a number of other legal issues, which a father from a non-legal background may not be fully aware of. Therefore, it may be a wise decision to seek legal advice to establish paternity and build a strong relationship with the child.
Source: ChildWelfare.gov, "The Rights of Unmarried Fathers," Accessed on March 10, 2015