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I am not married to my child’s mother. How do I establish my paternity of our child?

There are several ways to establish paternity voluntarily.

Paternity can be established voluntarily at the time of the child’s birth. Parents may complete a form acknowledging paternity at the hospital where the child is born, and the form is sent directly to the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES).

If paternity is not established at the time of the child’s birth, both parents may file notarized statements with the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS). The biological father’s name is then added to the child’s birth certificate.

Both parents may agree to establish paternity by filing one of the following documents with the Maricopa County Superior Court: (a) an affidavit in which both parents agree that the named father (or the "putative father") is the biological father of the child, or (b) an agreement that the mother, the putative father and the child will take a genetic test and be bound by the results. A blood test can be arranged, for a small fee, through the DES Division of Child Support.

When there is disagreement as to the paternity of the child, one of the parents may file a Petition to Establish Paternity, requesting the court to determine paternity. Generally, the court will order the putative father to undergo genetic testing; if the test results indicate the likelihood of paternity, he is presumed to be the biological father and legal paternity is established.

Once paternity is established, you may seek legal decision-making authority and parenting time with your child. The court may enter a child support order and determine the amount of past support owed, but the court will not order past support back further than three years from the beginning of the paternity action.