But for fathers, paternity can be a real issue in a custody dispute. Fathers desire as much as mothers to be involved in their children's lives. They wish to be there to watch their child take their first steps, to provide advice and counsel to their child, and to attend their children's important events and ceremonies.
So how can one party prove they are entitled to parental rights?
The easiest way to be recognized as a parent with rights over a child is to sign the birth certificate of the child at birth. The Courts in Arizona recognize that if you signed the birth certificate of the child, you are presumed to be the natural parent. This presumption can go a long way into affording an individual parental rights. But not every parent can be in attendance for the birth of the child. And not every parent who is in attendance gets an opportunity to sign the birth certificate. Not every parent who gets the opportunity to sign the birth certificate actually signs it because they may not know how significant the act is.
I think especially of those who are in the armed services or other essential professions that do not allow them to be present at the birth of their child. Or in situations where the natural mother does not allow or wish for the other parent to be present due to deteriorating relationships or safety issues. What then?
If the mother of the child marries at any time in the ten months preceding the birth of the child, then the mother's spouse is presumed to be the natural father of the child. This, too, has it's obvious flaws. If you know you are a father of a child and the mother of the child married in the preceding ten months of having your child, it is important that you contact an experienced Child Custody Attorney to protect your parental rights as soon as possible.
This is the only sure way to prove that you are the natural father of a child. Arizona Courts only require a 95% probability of paternity through genetic testing. Easy, right?
Not so fast. Because the first two methods to gaining custody are given preference or a presumption that they are accurate, it is more difficult than one would think to get a genetic test enforced by the court. This is because Courts don't want to "mix things up" with established family units and because genetic tests are uncomfortable for some children. However, it is important that you are able to get visitation and legal decision making over your child. Your child has a right to see his or her father, and to enjoy the company of the father's family as well.