New laws went into effect August 6,2016 that will affect Arizona fathers and paternity claims in Arizona child custody cases.
A new bill, S.B. 1297, will change the face of paternity claims of fathers in Arizona. Right now, when a father files to establish paternity, there is no preliminary injunction stopping the mother (or other parent) who has custody of the child from doing whatever they wish with the child. Sadly, the response of the parent who has custody can be to place obstacles in the way of the parent who is trying to establish paternity. That means the parent with custody of the child can relocate the child from Arizona to another state or country.
This is heartbreaking for young children whose fathers love them and are healthy parental figures in their lives, as statistics show that: “fathers are involved in the lives of their children, especially their education, their children learn more, perform better in school, and exhibit healthier behavior. Even when fathers do not share a home with their children, their active involvement can have a lasting and positive impact.”
Married fathers were already protected once they serve the other party with divorce or legal separation papers. If you are going to divorce in Arizona, you file a petition for dissolution. The other person has to be served with process to be on notice of the petition for dissolution. The documents the other party is served with include a summons, a petition for dissolution, a notice of rights about health care and a notice about creditors, and a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction is like a restraining order. The preliminary injunction language says this:
“That both parties are enjoined from:
(ii) Removing any natural or adopted child of the parties then residing in Arizona from the jurisdiction of the court without the prior written consent of the parties or the permission of the court.” See, A.R.S. §25-315
Now our legislature has confirmed that a father is a father – even if he’s not married.
As of August 6, 2016, when a father files to establish paternity in Arizona, that father will also file other paperwork. One of the papers he will file is a preliminary injunction. This means that if you file to establish paternity, which also allows you to seek custody of your child, when you serve the other party with the paternity petition, you will also hand them a preliminary injunction. As the father, you have just let the other parent know they cannot remove the child from Arizona without a court order.
The new bill amending A.R.S. §25-808 gives greater protection to Arizona fathers requires that dads take certain steps:
As the father, the “petitioner,” you must also file one of the following which establishes paternity:
a) a copy of the birth certificate that lists the father as parent;
b) an affidavit or acknowledgement signed by the father admitting paternity;
c) an adoption order listing both parties as parents; or
d) a court order establishing paternity.
S.B. 1297 has a number of other additions that also affect new parents. If you are facing an Arizona paternity case, you may benefit from talking to a lawyer. We offer a free initial consultation by phone to help you determine if you will benefit from our services. Call us today at 480-999-0800.