Many times I’ll speak with a parent wondering what rights they do/don’t have without a Court order.
As discussed in the first part of this blog series, there are several scenarios in which paternity would be presumed. However, until paternity is established by the Court, the Father is not, by definition, a “legal parent.” Further, if paternity has been established in a case to determine child support, but not legal decision-making or parenting time, Arizona statute states that “the parent with whom the child has resided for the greater part of the last six months shall have legal decision-making.”
In light of the above, it can be extremely important for a Father to proceed with establishing legal decision-making and parenting time through the proper channels, even if they have signed a birth certificate and/or had a conclusive DNA test done.
However, Mothers should not assume that the above gives them carte blanche to do whatever they wish with the child. Such behavior can end up having negative consequences if/when the Father does file a Petition with the court, as the court will look at past behavior in making an ultimate determination for future orders.
For all parties involved, it is typically best to have paternity conclusively determined by the Court as soon as possible in order to protect your rights and the rights of your child(ren).
If you would like to work with one of our experienced Attorneys, please call OWENS & PERKINS at (480) 630-2464 to schedule your free 30-minute consultation.