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Phoenix Paternity Lawyers

A paternity action is basically a child custody, visitation and support case in which the two parents are not married. A paternity action may be filed by a mother or father to establish custody, parenting time and child support for a child born out of wedlock. If you are an unmarried father and you have been denied access to your child, it is important to protect your rights. If you are an unmarried mother, you may have to establish paternity in order to get you the child support your child needs.

Establishing Paternity

Before a father can obtain parental rights or a mother can obtain support for a child born out of wedlock, a court must first establish paternity of the child. This is done by filing a petition known as a paternity action.If you have been served with a paternity action or you want to file one, now is a time when you could benefit from the advice of a family law attorney. At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, in Phoenix, our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of Arizona child custody and child support laws. Let us put our experience and knowledge to work for you.

How To Establish Paternity In Arizona

Either the father or mother can file a paternity action. Fathers typically file paternity actions to obtain parenting time and legal decision-making for their child following the breakup of an unmarried relationship. Mothers typically file paternity actions to obtain child support.

The first court appearance in a paternity action is a hearing in which no evidence will be presented. If both parties acknowledge who the father is, the court will accept the acknowledgement. If either side disputes who the father is, then the court will schedule an evidentiary hearing. The father, mother and child will be required to take a paternity test for this hearing.

Once paternity is established, the court can proceed to determine child support, parenting time and legal decision-making for the child. The stakes can be high for both the mother and the father. For example, a father may be ordered to pay back child support for up to the past three years. The mother may be ordered to share legal decision-making and parenting time with the father and would need to obtain court approval to relocate.

When a child is born to unmarried parents in Arizona, fathers can acknowledge paternity by signing a CS-127 Acknowledgement of Paternity form, which is available at the hospital. As a father, you should not sign this form if there is any uncertainty about paternity. This acknowledgement of paternity would still need to be entered in court to establish paternity.

At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, our attorneys represent both fathers and mothers in paternity actions. We believe children have a right to a substantial relationship with both parents, whether or not their parents were married. While we believe a collaborative approach is best, especially the children, we realize that this approach only works if both parties are able to work together. If the other parent is unreasonable and refuses to agree to custody and parenting time that is in the best interests of your children, our Arizona custody and paternity lawyers fight to protect your and your children’s interests.

A mother or father may have to go to court to establish paternity through a DNA test. Unmarried mothers may do this to obtain child support payments. Alternatively, both parents may stipulate to paternity without need for a DNA test. In both situations, the father does not necessarily have custody or visitation rights until those are established through the Court.At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, we represent both mothers and fathers in paternity actions. In many cases, we can obtain results for our clients efficiently and cost-effectively. However, cases involving contested custody and visitation may require extensive litigation.

Paternity And Child Support Responsibilities

Arizona expects parents who are capable of working to contribute the support of their children. This includes mothers and fathers who are unmarried. If a mother or father is not willing to stipulate that he is the father of a child, either party can file a paternity action and seek to legally establish paternity. If the petition is granted, the man and the child will undergo DNA tests, which will compare DNA taken from skin cells of the gums in a painless procedure.

For mothers — We can represent you to obtain current and past-due child support. If necessary, we also can seek to enforce the child support order.

For fathers — An attorney at our firm can represent you to obtain a fair and reasonable child support payment.

Parental Legal Rights And Paternity

Even though an unmarried father is required to pay child support, the father may not necessarily be entitled to legal decision-making or visitation rights. DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, represents mothers and fathers who are seeking custody or parenting time rights, as well as mothers and fathers who wish in good faith to prevent the other parent from obtaining those rights.

Establishing paternity is usually a straightforward procedure. However, the consequences of a paternity action can be significant, conferring both rights and responsibilities on both parents. Whatever your situation, DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, will work diligently to protect your rights and achieve your goals.

Paternity Tests In Phoenix

In Arizona, paternity of a child born out of wedlock can be established by stipulation. However, if either party disputes who the father is, the court will order an evidentiary hearing. Evidence presented at this hearing will include DNA tests.At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, in Phoenix, our lawyers represent both mothers and fathers in paternity actions. The stakes can be high, since the results of a paternity test can be used to address issues such as child support, child custody and legal decision-making.

DNA Testing In Paternity Actions

When ordered, all three parties — mother, child and alleged father — must submit to DNA testing. The tests will take place at a DNA testing facility designated by the court. The state will pay for the cost of the DNA tests in advance. However, if the alleged father is determined to be the father of the child, he will be responsible for the cost of the tests.

DNA tests are highly accurate, with many tests showing higher than a 99 percent probability of paternity. In Arizona, a DNA test showing 95 percent probability of paternity is sufficient to establish a legal presumption of paternity. DNA test results can also be used to exclude a man as the father of a child.

Once paternity is established either by stipulation or DNA testing, the court can proceed to determine child support, parenting time and legal decision-making for the child.

Unmarried Parent Custody Rights Attorney

As an unmarried parent, you have the same rights to child custody and decision-making as a parent who is married. The only difference is that unmarried parents must first establish paternity of the child before they can assert their rights in court.At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, in Phoenix, our lawyers represent mothers and fathers in disputes over child custody rights. In many cases, we can negotiate a parenting time arrangement efficiently and cost-effectively. However, if the mother and father do not agree on a plan, these cases may involve custody evaluations, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

Child Custody Between Unmarried Parents

Disputes over child custody and legal decision-making for a child born out of wedlock often follow the breakup of an unmarried relationship. In many cases, the father wishes to obtain visitation rights after visits have been cut off by the mother.

If you have a child with someone else, the law in Arizona says that it is in the child’s best interests to have substantial contact with both parents, whether the parents are married or not. Arizona courts are concerned solely with the best interests of the child rather than the desires of the parents. However, substantial contact does not necessarily mean equal contact. The presumption of substantial contact with both parents may be overcome by issues such as child abuse, domestic violence and child safety.

The first step in establishing a parenting plan for a child born out of wedlock is to file a paternity action with the court. Our lawyers can guide you through the legal process to establish your rights as a parent. We can represent you in the following types of issues:

  • Enforcement of existing child custody and parenting plans
  • Modifications of child custody and parenting plans based on changes that affect the child’s best interests

Fathers’ Rights Attorneys

Whether you are a father or a mother, at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, our No. 1 priority is protecting your children. However, if you are a father and you are not married to your child’s mother, there are important steps that you need to take to protect your rights. At DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, we help you establish paternity, custody and a parenting schedule that is in your child’s best interests.

Contact Our Phoenix Paternity Attorneys

DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, is here to help you through paternity matters.

Contact us
to arrange your
initial consultation.* Call
602-626-9552 or
800-409-0262. We look forward to hearing from you.

Awards & Accolades

DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC and founding attorney DeShon Laraye Pullen received many prestigious honors, including: Small Firm of the Year, Best Law Firms in Arizona, Family Law Litigator of the Year, selection to Arizona Super Lawyers and a Superb, 10.0 Avvo rating.