Paternity means the condition of being a father. Establishing paternity means establishing a legal father for a child. When the parents are not married it is important that paternity be legally established.
There are several ways you can establish paternity:
- The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) offers a voluntary process in which unwed parents may come into a local DCSS office and open a case to establish paternity and child support. The voluntary administrative process is available to children born in Arizona as well as children born in another state. The Voluntary Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is signed by both parents and filed by DCSS through the Hospital Paternity Program (HPP) to establish paternity.
- If there is a question regarding paternity, either parent may choose to have genetic testing done. Genetic Testing can be conducted in the local DCSS office and if the results are 95% or greater, DCSS will submit the results along with a Request for an Order of Paternity to the court. A copy of the Order of Paternity will be sent to the parents.
- If one party is uncooperative in establishing paternity on a case opened with DCSS, 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 legal parentage.
- Unwed Parents may choose to go through the Arizona court system to resolve any issues and establish paternity and a child support order without the involvement of DCSS. This choice may involve attorney fees, court costs, and filing fees.
Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity forms are also available at all hospitals and birthing centers for unwed parents to complete and sign after their child is born. The Acknowledgment of Paternity is also available at all Vital Records offices.
Once the voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity is signed, it is filed with both the DCSS Hospital Paternity Program and the Office of Vital Records establishing paternity. If the child was born in Arizona, the birth certificate is amended to include the father's name.
If the child was born in another state, a copy of an Affidavit Acknowledging Paternity is sent to the other state's Vital Records Agency.