As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, the most certain means of establishing paternity in Arizona is to go to court and get a legal decree which will officially identify a man as the father of his or her child. A court will generally do this after court-ordered DNA testing.
However, when a father and mother are reasonably certain about the father’s biological relationship to the child, the man may then opt to sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity, which is a state-created form often offered to unmarried dads while at the hospital.
Signing this form will ordinarily create a legal presumption that the man who signed it is the father of the child. While it does not in of itself grant specific custody rights or establish a definite amount of child support, it does serve as the channel through which a man can claim fathers’ rights or, for that matter, be held to his parental responsibilities.
While the Acknowledgment of Paternity is a convenient way for a father to establish his legal relationship with his children, is not always in a dad’s best interest to sign the form. For instance, if there is any uncertainty at all about whom the father of the child is, a man should not sign since it could mean he becomes legally responsible for a child that is not his. He should instead opt to go to court and get a genetic test.
Signing the Acknowledgement of Paternity carries with it permanent legal consequences. While a man can take back his signature within the first 60 days without too much difficulty, once that waiting period expires, a man will have to prove he signed it as a result of some sort of fraud or trickery. This can be a difficult uphill battle.