Paternity Lawyers in Sun City West and Surprise
Arizona attorneys handle matters relating to legal fatherhood
When unmarried parents have a child together, the father does not automatically receive legal parental rights, no matter how long they have been in a relationship with their child’s mother. This can create problems for both parties. Without the establishment of legal paternity, the father has no right to custody or visitation. Similarly, a mother cannot compel someone to provide child support unless the law recognizes him as the child’s father. Located in Surprise and Sun City West, Pennington Law, PLLC represents Arizona mothers and fathers in paternity proceedings as well as related matters involving custody and child support.
The process of establishing paternity
The simplest way for unmarried parents to name a legal father is to execute an Acknowledgement of Paternity at the hospital or birthing center where the child is born. After that, they can fill out a Voluntary Affidavit of Paternity at a Department of Child Support Services office. More effort is required if agreement doesn’t exist regarding who the child’s biological father is. A father seeking custody rights or a mother looking to obtain child support can petition the court for an order of legal paternity. Typically, these cases turn on the result of DNA testing. When you work with one of our attorneys, we can outline the necessary legal process and prepare the pertinent documents.
Child support obligations
Regardless of the relationship a young person’s parents have or had, both parents must contribute to the expenses associated with raising a child. However, this requires a legal determination of paternity first. Mothers should not hesitate to pursue child support even if they have received assurances that their son or daughter’s father will pay his share. Without a valid order in place, you cannot use enforcement mechanisms such as wage garnishment if the father fails to pay.
Obtaining legal parenting rights
Once a father has established legal paternity, he is required to provide child support. However, the mother retains child custody, unless the father goes to court and obtains an order that entitles him to participate in decisions and sets a parenting time schedule. Mediation is often a method of resolving any differences that might exist between parties following the establishment of paternity. As experienced family law attorneys, we are familiar with the high emotions that often accompany these issues and look for ways to keep both parties focused on achieving a result that truly is in the best interests of the son or daughter they share. Resolving custody matters outside of court usually also cuts down on the time and expense involved in developing a parenting plan. Whether your child is an infant or much older, we will strive to create visitation arrangements that give fathers the opportunity to spend frequent, meaningful time with their son or daughter in a healthy, supportive environment.
Contact a Maricopa County lawyer for a free consultation about a paternity matter
Pennington Law, PLLC, with offices in Sun City West and Surprise, handles issues related to legal paternity for Arizona residents. You can set up a free consultation regarding your legal options by calling 623-229-0463 or contacting us online.