Unmarried parents and the pursuit of custody and support

It can be confusing to know how to assure custody and support if your child is born and you and your partner are no longer together. Either you are no longer married or were never married in the first place.

Usually, the responsibility of proof of paternity falls on the individual who wishes to challenge lack of support or acknowledgment. Here are some common scenarios that happen to a parent that is not married to the other parent of a child and how Arizona law handles them.

I want visitation rights to my child, but the mother doesn’t acknowledge me as the father.

If the mother didn’t have you sign the birth certificate, you will need to file a paternity action with the court in order to have a chance at getting rights to parenting time with your child. The court has the responsibility to determine what is in the best interests of the child.

My ex-boyfriend refuses to support our baby, what can I do?

If your ex-boyfriend denies paternity and refuses to support the child, you will need to file a paternity action. If paternity gets established, then the court can issue an order for the father to pay child support.

Paternity can be determined by:

• The state of being married to the mother at some time in the ten months or less before the baby is born

• Blood testing

• DNA paternity testing showing at least a 95 percent probability of paternity

• The fathers signature on the child’s birth certificate

• A notarized written attestation signed by both parents regarding the baby’s parentage

As an unmarried couple, what can we do to make sure there’s no question about our child’s parents?

You can both fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity or you can both sign the child’s birth certificate. Establishing yourself as parents of your child can make possible later negations for parenting time or support much easier on everyone involved.

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