Just as DNA testing is becoming increasingly indispensable in criminal cases to convict a suspect or exonerate a wrongly imprisoned person, these tests are also essential in Arizona family courts. DNA testing is far more accessible and affordable than in the past, and it is often used for genealogy projects. The high accuracy of DNA tests, exceeding 99.99 percent, means that they offer a firm basis for determining legal parenthood.
When a man is married to the mother of a child, he is often presumed to be the father. One effective means of challenging this presumption in case of an extramarital affair is a DNA paternity test. More commonly, however, paternity tests are performed for children born to parents who are not married. There is no obligation to list a father on the birth certificate or for a father to sign a legal paternity document. However, if the mother of a child needs child support payments, she may seek an order to obtain a DNA test to establish the child’s paternity. Once the father has been identified, a child support order can be entered. Of course, the newly identified legal father would also have rights to his children, including custody or visitation time.
In other cases, a father who has been away from his child or who did not know he was a parent may seek a DNA paternity test on his own if he wants to develop the parent-child relationship. If he is not named on the birth certificate, he can go to family court to seek recognition as the legal father of the child.
Many single parents struggle to raise their children without financial support from the other parent. People who want to pursue child support payments may consult with a family law attorney about the steps available to protect their children’s rights.