In Arizona, when a child is born in wedlock (i.e., the parents were married at the time the child was born), the husband is presumed to be the biological father of the child. See A.R.S. § 25-814(A)(1). On the other hand, for children born out of wedlock (i.e., the parents were not married when the child was born), there is no presumption of paternity. And paternity, therefore, must be established.

Establishing paternity is important to both mothers and fathers. In Arizona, if you are the father of a child born out of wedlock (unmarried to the mother), until paternity is established, you do not have enforceable legal rights as they pertain to legal decision-making or parenting time. For mothers with children born out of wedlock, establishing paternity is important because it must be done before the court can enter a child support order to the father.

Paternity can be established in a number of ways. One way to establish paternity is through a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity under A.R.S. § 25-812. In this scenario, both parents would sign a notarized acknowledgment of paternity containing, among other things, the names of both parents, their social security numbers, and the name of the child. See A.R.S. § 25-812. The acknowledgment is then filed with the court, and the court will subsequently issue an order establishing paternity.

Sometimes, however, the alleged father will be uncooperative and refuse to voluntarily acknowledge paternity. In that case, a petition to establish paternity can be filed. The petition asks the superior court to order a DNA test to determine paternity. “The department or its agent shall pay the costs of the test subject to repayment from the mother or the alleged father if paternity is established.” A.R.S. § 25-816. The court will presume the alleged father is the biological parent if the DNA test shows a 95% or greater probability of parentage.

If you need help establishing paternity in Arizona or in defending a paternity action, the experienced attorneys at Giordano & Heckele, PLLC can help. CALL TODAY for a consultation: (520) 433-9031 or email us at