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Claiming Your Rights as a Father

Father’s day is a time for families to get together and celebrate fathers of all kinds. But what if you’re unable to be with your child this Sunday due to disputed paternity?

Establishing paternity is a crucial step in gaining parental rights, including the right to visit your children or to object to an adoption. Below, we’ve included a few things for fathers to keep in mind when establishing their paternity.

Voluntary Acknowledgment

If you and the mother of the child get married after the mother becomes pregnant, your paternity will be presumed as if you were married when the child was conceived. However, if you aren’t married, you may need to do some paperwork. If you and the child’s mother agree that you are the father of the child, the two of you can sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity and send it to the county or state Office of Vital Records, or the DES Hospital Paternity Program. Once the forms are filed, the child’s birth certificate will be amended to include you as the father.

Voluntary Paternity Proceedings

Paternity suits aren’t always knock-down-drag-out court battles. Sometimes a father may be willing to pay child support, but simply wants the security that comes with a judicial determination. A judicial determination will ensure that you have parental rights, like access to your child. If you decide to bring a civil suit to establish your paternity, you can download the court documents from The Judicial Branch of Arizona’s website.

Paternity Tests

If your paternity is contested, you’ll probably want to get a paternity test for yourself and anyone else who claims to be the father. Generally, such tests are based on blood or DNA samples and are 90 to 99 percent accurate. They’re accurate enough to exclude individuals who aren’t the biological father.

Hopefully these tips will help you on your way to claiming your rights as a father. If you have any questions about establishing paternity or paternity law in general, you may want to consult with an attorney.

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