Arizona Paternity Law


25-801. Jurisdiction

    The superior court has original jurisdiction in proceedings to establish maternity or paternity. All such proceedings shall be civil actions.

25-802. Venue

    Proceedings to establish maternity or paternity may be originated in the county of residence of the respondent or the petitioner or the child or children the subject of the action. The fact that the petitioner parent or child or both are not, or never have been, residents of Arizona does not bar the proceeding.

25-803. Persons who may originate proceedings; custody; parenting time; conciliation court

     A. Proceedings to establish the maternity or paternity of a child or children and to compel support under this article may be commenced by any of the following:

    1. The mother.

    2. The father.

    3. The guardian, conservator or best friend of a child or children born out of wedlock.

    4. A public welfare official or agency of the county where the child or children reside or may be found.

    5. The state pursuant to section 25-509.

    B. An adult may bring an action to establish the adult’s biological parent.

    C. Any party to a proceeding under this article other than the state may request that custody and specific parenting time be determined as a part of the proceeding. When paternity is established the court may award custody and parenting time as provided in section 25-408. The attorney general or county attorney shall not seek or defend any ancillary matters such as custody or parenting time.

    D. In any case in which paternity is established the parent with whom the child has resided for the greater part of the last six months shall have legal custody unless otherwise ordered by the court.

    E. The services of the conciliation court may be used in regard to disputed matters of custody and parenting time.

25-804. Time for instituting proceedings

    Proceedings to establish the paternity of the child may be instituted during the pregnancy of the mother or after the birth of the child. For purposes of establishing a duty to pay support or past support, the proceedings must be instituted before the child’s eighteenth birthday.

25-805. Effect of death, absence or insanity of plaintiff

    If after the petition is filed the petitioner dies, becomes insane, departs the state or fails to litigate the issue, the proceedings do not abate but may be continued, with the state as petitioner, as to any child in the legal custody of any state agency, or as to any child who is the beneficiary of any state or federal financial assistance.

25-806. Petition

    A. Paternity proceedings are commenced by the filing of a verified petition that alleges that a woman is delivered of a child or children born out of lawful wedlock or pregnant with a child conceived out of wedlock and that the respondent is the father of the child or children.

    B. Maternity proceedings are commenced by the filing of a verified petition that alleges that a woman is delivered of a child or children born out of lawful wedlock and that the woman as respondent is the mother of the child or children.

    C. The procedure on the filing of the petition shall be as in other civil cases.

    D. If the respondent does not file a response or if the respondent files a written response admitting paternity or maternity, the court may immediately enter a judgment of paternity or maternity. If other relevant issues are raised in the petition or response or in a separate petition filed after entry of a paternity or maternity judgment, the court shall proceed to resolve all relevant issues in the case pursuant to the rules of procedure applicable to family law cases.

    E. A trial held pursuant to this section shall be made to the court.

25-807. Precedence of maternity and paternity proceedings; delay for paternity tests; court order; evidentiary use; alternative tests; out-of-state orders; immunity

     A. Proceedings to establish maternity and paternity have precedence over other civil proceedings. The case shall be set for trial within sixty days from the filing of an answer by the respondent.

     B. A delay in determining paternity in an action commenced before the birth of the child shall be granted until after the birth of the child for purposes of paternity tests if any party to the proceedings requests.

     C. The court, on its own motion or on motion of any party to the proceedings, shall order the mother, her child or children and the alleged father to submit to genetic testing and shall direct that inherited characteristics to determine parentage, including blood and tissue type, be determined by appropriate testing procedures conducted by an accredited laboratory. if the mother is unavailable or fails to cooperate by refusing to submit to genetic testing, testing of the alleged father and child or children may be appropriate. An expert duly qualified as an examiner of genetic markers shall be agreed on by the parties or appointed by the court to analyze and interpret the results and report to the court.

     D. If the results of the genetic tests indicate that the likelihood of the alleged father’s paternity is ninety-five per cent or greater, the alleged father is presumed to be the parent of the child and the party opposing the establishment of the alleged father’s paternity shall establish by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged father is not the father of the child.

     E. The examiner’s report shall be admitted at trial unless a timely written challenge to the examiner’s report is filed with the court within twenty days of the date the report was filed with the court. If the results of the examiner’s report have been challenged and on the reasonable request of a party, the court shall order an additional test to be made by the same laboratory or an independent laboratory at the expense of the party requesting additional testing.

     F. If a timely written challenge is not filed pursuant to subsection E, the examiner’s report is admissible in evidence without the need for foundation testimony or other proof of authenticity or accuracy.

     G. The court, on application of either party, shall determine the proportion and time in which the initial test costs shall be paid.

     H. On motion of a party to the proceedings, the court may order that experts perform alternative or additional tests including medical, scientific and genetic tests.

     I. either party may apply for summary judgment on the issue of paternity.

     J. a state or local agency in this state, including the department of economic security, the state department of corrections and any other correctional facility that has custody of a person who is the subject of the genetic testing order, shall treat a genetic testing order issued in another state that appears to be in good order as if it were issued by a court of this state.

     K. notwithstanding any other law, an agency, agency employee or agency contractor that acts in good faith to cooperate in obtaining genetic testing samples under this section is not subject to civil or criminal liability.

25-809. Judgment

    A. Except as provided in section 25-501, subsection F, if a respondent admits parentage or if the issue is decided in the affirmative in an action instituted during the child’s minority, the court shall direct, subject to applicable equitable defenses and using a retroactive application of the current child support guidelines, the amount, if any, the parties shall pay for the past support of the child and the manner in which payment shall be made.

    B. The court shall enter an order for support determined to be due for the period between the commencement of the proceeding and the date that current child support is ordered to begin. The court shall not order past support retroactive to more than three years before the commencement of the proceeding unless the court makes a written finding of good cause after considering all relevant circumstances, including:

    1. The circumstances, conduct or motivation of the party who claims entitlement to past support in not seeking an earlier establishment of maternity or paternity.

    2. The circumstances, conduct or motivation of the party from whom past support is sought in impeding the establishment of maternity or paternity.

    3. The diligence with which service of process was attempted on the respondent.

    C. The court shall also direct the amount either parent shall pay for the actual costs of the pregnancy, childbirth and any genetic testing and other related costs subject to production of billing statements or other documentation. This documentation is prima facie evidence of amounts incurred and is admissible in evidence without the need for foundation testimony or other proof of authenticity or accuracy.

    D. In any proceeding under this article the court shall order either parent or both parents to pay any monies reasonable and necessary for the support of the minor unemancipated child until the child reaches the age of majority or is emancipated. In determining the amount of support for the child, the court shall apply the child support guidelines pursuant to section 25-320, subsection D. If a child reaches the age of majority while the child is attending high school or a certified high school equivalency program, support shall continue to be provided while the child is actually attending high school or the equivalency program but only until the child reaches nineteen years of age unless the court enters an order pursuant to subsection F of this section.

    E. The court may modify an order of support pursuant to section 25-503.

    F. Even if a child is over the age of majority when a petition is filed or at the time of the final decree, the court may order support to continue past the age of majority if all of the following are true:

    1. The court has considered the factors prescribed in subsection D of this section.

    2. The child is severely mentally or physically disabled as demonstrated by the fact that the child is unable to live independently and be self-supporting.

    3. The child’s disability began before the child reached the age of majority.

    G. After considering the financial resources of both parties and the reasonableness of the positions each party has taken throughout the proceedings, the court may order a party to pay a reasonable amount to the other party for the costs and expenses of maintaining or defending any proceeding under this article. The court may order the party to pay these amounts directly to the attorney. The attorney may enforce the order in the attorney’s name with the same force and effect and in the same manner as if the order had been made on behalf of any party to the action. For the purposes of this subsection, “costs and expenses” includes attorney fees, deposition costs, appellate costs and other reasonable expenses the court determines were necessary.

    H. The court has contempt powers to enforce its orders.

    I. The parties may terminate an action brought under this article by agreement and compromise only if the court has approved the terms of the agreement and compromise.

25-810. Liability of parents if putative mother or father is a minor; periodic payments

    A. Except as provided pursuant to section 25-501, subsection F, the parent or parents having custody or control of the putative mother or father may be joined as respondents in the action if the putative mother or father is a minor or was a minor at the time the action was commenced. The parents may be held jointly and severally liable with the minor until the minor reaches the age of majority.

    B. The court may order that a judgment made against a parent pursuant to this section be satisfied through periodic payments as other child support orders.

    C. In addition to the enforcement of support remedies provided pursuant to section 25-508, an order made pursuant to this section that provides for periodic payments shall be enforced pursuant to this chapter.

25-812. Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity; action to overcome paternity

    A. This state or the parent of a child born out of wedlock may establish the paternity of a child by filing one of the following with the clerk of the superior court, the department of economic security or the department of health services:

    1. A notarized or witnessed statement that contains the social security numbers of both parents and that is signed by both parents acknowledging paternity or two separate substantially similar notarized or witnessed statements acknowledging paternity. If the voluntary acknowledgment is filed with the court, the filing party must redact any social security numbers and file them separately pursuant to section 25-501, subsection G. If another man is presumed to be the child’s father pursuant to section 25-814, an acknowledgment of paternity is valid only with the presumed father’s written consent or as prescribed pursuant to section 25-814. A statement that is witnessed by an employee of the department of economic security or the department of health services or by an employee of a hospital must contain the printed name and residential or business address of the witness. A statement that is witnessed by any other person must contain the printed name and residential address of the witness. If the acknowledgment of paternity is witnessed, the witness must be an adult who is not related to either parent by blood or by marriage.

    2. An agreement by the parents to be bound by the results of genetic testing including any genetic test previously accepted by a court of competent jurisdiction, or any combination of genetic testing agreed to by the parties, and an affidavit from a certified laboratory that the tested father has not been excluded.

    B. On filing a document required in subsection A of this section with the clerk of the superior court, the clerk or authorized court personnel shall issue an order establishing paternity, which may amend the name of the child or children, if requested by the parents. The clerk shall transmit a copy of the order of paternity to the department of health services and the department of economic security.

    C. On entry of an order by the clerk of the superior court, the paternity determination has the same force and effect as a judgment of the superior court. In a non-title IV-D case, the clerk shall transmit a copy of an order granted under this subsection to the state title IV-D agency. The case filing fee prescribed by section 12-284 shall not be charged to any person who, in the same county, initiates or responds to a proceeding to establish child support or to obtain an order for custody or parenting time within ninety days after an order establishing paternity is issued under subsection B of this section.

    D. A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity executed pursuant to subsection A, paragraph 1 of this section may be filed with the department of economic security, which shall provide a copy to the department of health services. A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity made pursuant to this section is a determination of paternity and has the same force and effect as a superior court judgment.

    E. Pursuant to rule 85(c) of the Arizona rules of family law procedure, the mother, father or child, or a party to the proceeding on a rule 85(c) motion, may challenge a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity established in this state at any time after the sixty day period only on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact, with the burden of proof on the challenger and under which the legal responsibilities, including child support obligations of any signatory arising from the acknowledgment shall not be suspended during the challenge except for good cause shown. The court shall order the mother, her child or children and the alleged father to submit to genetic testing and shall direct that appropriate testing procedures determine the inherited characteristics, including blood and tissue type. If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the genetic tests demonstrate that the established father is not the biological father of the child, the court shall vacate the determination of paternity and terminate the obligation of that party to pay ongoing child support. An order vacating the determination of paternity operates prospectively only and does not alter the obligation to pay child support arrearages or, unless otherwise ordered by the court, any other amount previously ordered to be paid pursuant to section 25-809.

    F. Before signing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity pursuant to this section, the parties shall be provided notice of the alternatives to, the legal consequences of and the rights and responsibilities that arise from signing the acknowledgment.

    G. The department of economic security shall notify the department of health services of all paternity determinations and rescissions.

    H. The mother or the father may rescind the acknowledgment of paternity within the earlier of:

    1. Sixty days after the last signature is affixed to the notarized acknowledgment of paternity that is filed with the department of economic security, the department of health services or the clerk of the court.

    2. The date of a proceeding relating to the child, including a child support proceeding in which the mother or father is a party.

    I. A rescission authorized pursuant to subsection H of this section must be in writing and a copy of each rescission of paternity shall be filed with the department of economic security. The department of economic security shall mail a copy of the rescission of paternity to the other parent and to the department of health services.

    J. Voluntary acknowledgments of paternity and rescissions of paternity filed pursuant to this section shall contain data elements in accordance with the requirements of the United States secretary of health and human services.

25-813. Default order of paternity

 

    In an action to establish paternity, the court shall enter an order of paternity if either:

    1. The service of summons is complete and the respondent fails to appear or otherwise answer.

    2. An order for genetic or blood testing has been entered and the respondent fails to appear without cause for an appointment to take a blood or genetic test or fails to take a blood or genetic test.

25-814. Presumption of paternity

 

    A. A man is presumed to be the father of the child if:

    1. He and the mother of the child were married at any time in the ten months immediately preceding the birth or the child is born within ten months after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity or dissolution of marriage or after the court enters a decree of legal separation.

    2. Genetic testing affirms at least a ninety-five per cent probability of paternity.

    3. A birth certificate is signed by the mother and father of a child born out of wedlock.

    4. A notarized or witnessed statement is signed by both parents acknowledging paternity or separate substantially similar notarized or witnessed statements are signed by both parents acknowledging paternity.

    B. If another man is presumed to be the child’s father under subsection A, paragraph 1, an acknowledgment of paternity may be effected only with the written consent of the presumed father or after the presumption is rebutted. If the presumed father has died or cannot reasonably be located, paternity may be established without written consent.

    C. Any presumption under this section shall be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence. If two or more presumptions apply, the presumption that the court determines, on the facts, is based on weightier considerations of policy and logic will control. A court decree establishing paternity of the child by another man rebuts the presumption.

25-815. Paternity; full faith and credit

     If paternity has been established in another state by a court or administrative order or voluntary acknowledgment, the determination of paternity has the same force and effect in this state as if the determination of paternity was granted by a court in this state.

25-816. Title IV-D child support; paternity establishment; genetic testing

   A. On receipt of a sworn statement by the mother or the alleged father alleging paternity and setting forth the facts establishing a reasonable possibility of the requisite sexual contact between the parties, the department of economic security or its agent may order the mother, her child or children and the alleged father to submit to the drawing of blood or tissue samples for genetic testing of a type generally acknowledged as reliable by accreditation bodies. If the mother cannot be located the department or its agent may order the caretaker of the child or children to present the child or children for genetic testing. The order shall be served by first class mail or delivered at least ten business days before the genetic testing. The department or its agent shall pay the costs of the test subject to repayment from the mother or the alleged father if paternity is established. An order of genetic testing issued by the department or its agent has the same force and effect as a superior court order.

    B. If the results of the genetic testing indicate that the likelihood of the alleged father’s paternity is ninety-five per cent or greater, the alleged father is presumed to be the parent of the child and the party opposing the establishment of the alleged father’s paternity shall establish by clear and convincing evidence that he is not the father of the child.

    C. A person who is tested pursuant to this section may contest the test results in writing to the department or its agent within thirty days after the department or its agent mails the results to that person. If the original test results are contested in a timely manner, on request and advance payment by the requesting party, the department or its agent shall order a second genetic test pursuant to subsection A.

25-817. Temporary orders; presumption of paternity

    A. Pending a judicial determination of paternity, the court shall issue a temporary order of support, and may issue a temporary order regarding custody and parenting time, if any of the following applies:

    1. Genetic testing affirms at least a ninety-five per cent probability of paternity.

    2. A notarized or witnessed statement is signed by both parents acknowledging paternity or separate substantially similar notarized or witnessed statements are signed acknowledging paternity and filed with the department of health services pursuant to section 36-334 or filed with the department of economic security.

    3. The respondent admits or does not deny paternity in a written response filed with the clerk of the court.

    B. A temporary order issued pursuant to this section does not prejudice the rights of a person or child that are adjudicated at subsequent hearings in the proceeding.

    C. A temporary order issued pursuant to this section may be revoked or modified and terminates when the final support, custody or parenting time order is entered or when the petition for support, custody or parenting time is dismissed.

25-818. Paternity case registry; acknowledgments and paternity and maternity orders; recording requirements

    A. The department of economic security shall maintain a paternity case registry for this state. Public and private entities that obtain or receive a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity shall promptly transmit the original signed and completed acknowledgment to the department of economic security. This requirement does not apply to the superior court.

    B. The department of economic security may dispose of an original voluntary acknowledgment of paternity not sooner than one year after the date of the last signature on the acknowledgment and only after it makes an electronic copy of the original acknowledgment.

    C. The clerk of the superior court shall transmit a copy of each order of paternity or maternity to the department of economic security.

    D. The department of economic security shall maintain automated records regarding the parents and any child whose name is stated in a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or an order of paternity or maternity.

    E. The clerk of the superior court, the department of economic security and the department of health services shall cooperate to ensure that the state registrar of vital records receives a copy of a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or order of paternity or maternity relating to any child born in this state.