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Challenging an Acknowledgment of Paternity

undefinedLast week, we discussed the requirements to rescind an acknowledgment of paternity.  

This week, we will cover what happens if someone wants to challenge the Acknowledgment of Paternity after the sixty day period has passed.

In Arizona, the mother, the father, the child or other involved party may challenge the Acknowledgement of Paternity.  

After the sixty day period, the Acknowledgement of Paternity may only be challenged on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact and the burden of proof falls on the person challenging the Acknowledgment.

Challenges of the paternity of a child most often occur when someone believes that a child is their biological child but another man has been named the father; however, the case could go the opposite way if the named father does not believe he is the actual father. 

In either case, the challenger will have a very high burden to be able to prove that the paternity that was previously established was done so on the basis of fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact.  For example, the challenger may be accusing the mother of knowingly naming the wrong father to prevent the biological father from having contact with his child.

When someone challenges paternity that means there is the assumption that paternity has already been established. This means that a DNA test will be required in order to confirm that the established father either is or is not the biological father.

The Court will order the mother, child(ren) and the father to submit genetic testing from an approved facility.

If the Court finds that the genetic tests demonstrate that the established legal father is not the biological father, the Court may vacate the determination of paternity and terminate the obligation of child support for that party. 

Accordingly, the Court may grant parenting time and legal decision making authority to the person who has proven his paternity, in addition to ordering child support; however, any determination of those parental rights will always be based on the best interests of the child standard (as set forth in A.R.S. 25-403).

If a person believed he was the father and was proven not to be, he may still be able to establish legal parental rights to the child.  That is possible when the person has been acting as a parent, in legal terms this referred to as “In Loco Parentis”.  

Some of these paternity cases can be very complex, and the individual facts of your case may vastly change the outcome of your specific case.  In any case, consulting with an attorney will help guide you through this process and ensure that your rights are protected.

If you find yourself involved in a paternity case and 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.