Belt Law Blog

Paternity and Child Support

28July
2012

When a father learns that a child he has loved and raised for many years in not his biological child, he feels angry, devastated and betrayed.   What actions are taken by a father in this type of situation, of course, depends on the father and also on the laws of the state in which he resides.

One Pennsylvania father, Mike, found out that the girl he had raised for six years was not his biological daughter.  Mike was devastated by this revelation, left his wife, but continued the relationship with his daughter.  He stated that to him, in all ways that mattered, this girl was still his daughter, so he paid his child support faithfully, and had visitation rights with his daughter.

However, when Mike learned that his ex-wife was going to marry the biological father of his daughter, the thought of supporting another man’s child when that man was in the household became unbearable and he filed to end his paternal rights, even though it might mean losing visitation rights with the child.  It has been two years since Mike filed the suit and he is still paying child support for another man’s daughter. 

Paternity decisions in most states are governed by an old English common law, that when a child is born in a marriage, it is presumed to be the product of that union unless the husband is impotent, sterile or beyond the “four seas.”  The outcome of a paternity case depends upon not only the details of the case itself, but also the state in which the case is tried.

In Arizona, there are several ways to establish the paternity of a child.

  • The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) offers a voluntary process in which unwed parents may open a case to establish paternity and child support.  The Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is signed by both parents and filed by DCSE through the Hospital Paternity Program to establish paternity.
  • Either parent may choose to have genetic testing done if there is a question regarding paternity. 
  • If one party is uncooperative in establishing  paternity on a case opened with DCSE, the case may be referred to the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for a court hearing to establish paternity and a child support order.
  • A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity, signed by both parents, can be filed with the court or an administrative agency to establish paternity.
  • Unwed Parent’s may choose to go through the Arizona court system to resolve any issue and establish paternity and a child support order without the involvement of DCSE.  However, this choice may involve attorney fees, court cost and filing fees.

Establishing paternity can be a challenge, as there can be pages of complicated legal paperwork, and conflicts that arise involving child support and child custody issues as well.  An experienced Arizona Family Law Attorney will defend the rights of the children in your case, offer comprehensive knowledge, and foster professional and cordial negotiations.

Posted in Child Support, Paternity |
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