Establish Paternity or Maternity
Parents who were not married to each other within 10 months of the child's birth can establish legal paternity or maternity for the natural father and mother in any one of these ways:
* DNA test (genetic test) for father and chlld that shows the likelihood of the father's paternity is 95% or greater;
* Hospital acknowledgement program, which establishes paternity and maternity when the child is born;
* Voluntary Acknowledgment of paternity and maternity with notarized signatures of both parents; and
* Ruling at trial after a hearing on a Petition to Establish Paternity;
In some instances, the father is presumed to bhe the natural father a follows: 1) He was married to the mother at the time of the child's birth; 2) Both he and the mother signed the child's birth certificate and his name appears as the father on the birth certificate; 3) The genetic test indicates that there is at least a 95% likelihood that he is the father.
FILING A PETITION FOR PATERNITY
If the Father's name does not appear on the birth certificate and either parent is unwilling to cooperate in taking a DNA test for paternity, then either parent or the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Attorney General's Office can file a Petition for Paternity in court. There will be a summons issued and served on the mother or father, and an Order to Appear at a hearing. At the hearing, the judge will establish paternity within 60 days by either by the voluntary ackinowledgment of the parents, or an order the father or mother to take a genetic test to establish his paternity or her maternity, and after the test results are produced, the court will issue an order of maternity or paternity based on the genetic test.
Establishing paternity is a pre-requisite to establishing child suport and legal decision making for parents, who were not married to each other within 10 months prior to the child's birth. After the court has established an order of paternity, the court can order the father to pay child support and provide medical insurance for the child.
JUDGMENT OF PATERNITY, CHILD SUPPORT AND MEDICAL INSURANCE
According to A.R.S. 25-809, the court can make the following orders at a hearing to establish paternity and child support:
* An order for paternity or maternity of the child;
* An order for current child support;
* An order for retroactive child support that goes back three years for good cause shown;
* An order for actual costs of genetic testing, prenatal care, and childbirth.
It is important to consult with an attorney before trying to represent yourself in a proceeding to establish paternity, child support and medical insurance, because the outcome can result in years of payments under the current order and a child support arrears order for the prior three years, if cause is shown.
The court will order either parent to provide medical insurance for the child. A parent can purchase private insurance, provide insurance through his employer, or qualitfy for AHCCCS (the state plan in Arizona). If neither parent has medical insurance and the child is covered by AHCCCS, the parent who is paying child support (obligor) can also be ordered to make medical payments to the other parent for the child.
Child support for a child born out of wedlock can be ordered after that child reaches the age of 18, if there is proof that the child is severely mentally or physically disabled and cannot live indpendently and be self supporting. Usually there is an action to establish an adult guardianship of the disabled adult child that accompanies the order for child support.