Most Arizonans believe that fathers play a crucial role in the lives of their children, even when they do not live with them. With that belief and to serve the best interests of children, the state long ago made establishing the paternity of children a priority. Once established, the fact of paternity provides a father with specific legal rights.
If a man wants to voluntarily establish paternity, then he can obtain an acknowledgment of paternity form at the hospital when his child is born or contact the state’s Division of Child Support Services.
Sometimes, though, a man may not be willing to accept paternity. This is often the case for unmarried couples. In these contested paternity cases, the mother of the child will need to file a court petition and all parties must undergo DNA testing. Under Arizona law, the genetic tests must show at least a 95 percent likelihood that the man is the child’s father.
If a woman is not sure of her child’s paternity, then the state’s Division of Child Support Services will follow up with any man identified by the mother and for whom it has contact information. The man can then either admit to being the child’s father or consent to a genetic test.
If a genetic test confirms that a man is a child’s father, then he is legally obligated to accept paternity. Arizona pays for any genetic test that is required, although a man must agree that he will pay back the state if test results prove that he is the father. Whether or not repayment is done in a lump sum or in installments, the state must be paid back in full.
Source: Arizona Department of Economic Security, “Paternity Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ),” accessed June 2, 2015