An acknowledgment of paternity, also known as a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, is a form used to establish paternity for a child born out of wedlock. It is important to establish legal paternity when parents of a child are not married. After a child is born, both the mother and the father may be presented with this legal document in front of a witness or notary. Once paternity is established, the father’s name will be added to the child’s birth certificate. However, you should know that the determination of paternity is not a custody order, rather it provides a starting point for determining issues related to:
- Legal decision making
- Parenting time
- Child Support
Acknowledgments of paternity are mostly used to confirm the name of a child’s father. They can be used to prove the father is required to pay child support. But custody orders solidify a father’s legal rights pertaining to parenting time and legal decision making. Signing the Acknowledgement doesn’t automatically grant visitation or custody rights to the father but could be used to ask the Court for them.
Should We Sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity?
You should only sign an acknowledgment if you’re the natural mother and father of the child. Should I Sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity if I am Not the Natural Father? That may be a legal advice question, but generally speaking, if you are not the biological father, then signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity could set you up for legal problems down the road. Signing this document establishes a legal obligation to support your child pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-501.
Why Should We Complete a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity?
There are many benefits of completing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. Completing this document could make it easier for your child(ren), from an estate planning standpoint, to benefit from:
- Veterans benefits
- Social Security
- Life & health insurance
- Other government programs
What if the Father Won’t Sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity?
If the individual believed to be the child’s father will not sign a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or take a voluntary DNA test, there are ways to compel the person to take a DNA test. The court might order DNA testing to establish paternity. Establishing paternity does not have to be voluntary.
Can We Withdrawal A Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity?
Either parent has the right to cancel the Acknowledgment of Paternity within 60 days from the date of the last notarized/witnessed signature. You must complete an Affidavit of Paternity and send it to the Hospital Paternity Program pursuant to A.R.S § 25-812. There are cases in Arizona where non-biological fathers are declared legal fathers, and forced to pay child support for decades. We have presented motions to overturn those judgments in the past, and we have successfully recovered parental rights for some parents.
- “Acknowledgement of Paternity Form.” ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES, azdhs.gov/documents/vital-records/manuals/acknowledgment-paternity-form.pdf.
- “Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity; Action to Overcome Paternity.” Arizona State Legislature, www.azleg.gov/ars/25/00812.htm.
- “25-501 – Duties of Support; Exemption.” Arizona State Legislature, www.azleg.gov/ars/25/00501.htm.
- “What Is An Acknowledgment Of Paternity In Arizona?” Arizona Legal Center, 30 July 2018, arizonalegalcenter.org/what-is-acknowledgment-of-paternity-arizona/.
- “Establish Paternity.” Establish Paternity | Arizona Department of Economic Security, des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/child-support/apply-for-child-support/establish-paternity.
Can a Lawyer Help with Establishing Paternity?
You should consult a lawyer if you have questions on issues like child support, child custody, and paternity as they can be very complicated to navigate on your own. Hiring a family law attorney at Moshier Law can help you better understand your legal options and assist if you are having difficulties establishing paternity or wish to object to a paternity claim.