Arizona has long presumed paternity when the wife in a married couple has a child. Regardless of the genetics involved, the husband of a woman who has a child is the presumptive father. He will be on the birth certificate and will have both parental rights and responsibilities to his children while married and in the event that the couple later divorces.

If you aren’t married to the mother of your child when she gives birth, you won’t automatically have rights unless she chooses to put you on the birth certificate. If she does not, you could find yourself struggling to maintain your relationship with your child in the future. Establishing paternity now is a good way to protect your role in the life of your child.

Establishing paternity ensures you have the rights of a father

If your relationship with the mother of the child ends or if something were to happen to her where she could no longer serve as the parent for your child, such as incarceration or an incapacitating accident, you could be left in a difficult position where you don’t automatically have the right to step up and take care of your kid.

Establishing paternity now protects you and also your child by formalizing the relationship. Even if the mother of your child later decides that she’d rather not see you, you can still go to the courts and ask for parenting time.

Establishing paternity will give your child a sense of belonging and security

Marriage is not necessary for children to have a sense of family and self-identity. However, understanding your family dynamics and family history is very important, even if their parents never formally marry.

By establishing paternity you create a formal and legal connection with your child that will help them feel more in tune with their broader support network and their cultural background. Establishing paternity could also help in the event that there are genetic medical issues that your child or other family members experience in the future.

Depending on the circumstances, legally establishing paternity could be as simple as filling out a few forms or may require court hearings and genetic testing. Regardless of what the process entails, it is likely a worthwhile venture for you and your child.