In Arizona, if the parents of a child were not married when the mother became pregnant or when the child was born, the child does not have a legal father until paternity is established. Until paternity is legally established, the biological father has no legal rights to the child, such as parenting time with the child, and no legal right to participate in major decisions about the child, such as medical treatment, education or religious training.
Paternity can be legally established in the following manners: 1) voluntary establishment through the court, 2) establishment by the court after filing a court case, 3) establishment through the state department of Economic Security (DES) and 4) establishment by automatic operation of law through the state Department of Health Services.
If the parents are not able to establish paternity voluntarily, either parent may file a Petition to Establish Paternity with the Superior Court. The court can then order that genetic testing be done. If the person claimed to be the father, is proven by genetic testing to be the biological father, the court will issue an order establishing legal paternity. The court also may enter orders regarding past and future child support, parenting time and legal custody.