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Can a Man Bring a Paternity Challenge To Establish Visitation Rights for a Child?
If you believe you are the father of a child and want to establish visitation rights, can you ask a court to order paternity testing? This is a common question since there is a misconception that only women trying to establish paternity to obtain financial support can request paternity testing from a court. However, this misconception is not true.
Case Law Supports Putative Father Seeking to Establish Paternity
In Ban v. Quigley, 812 P.2d 1014 (1991), a woman had an affair with a man while she was estranged from her husband. The woman eventually reconciled with her husband but also became pregnant. The “other man” believed he was the father of the baby. He asked a court to order paternity testing to determine whether he was the biological father. The woman argued that the request for testing should be denied because a putative father cannot bring a paternity action unless the child is born out of wedlock.
Arizona Law on Paternity Blood Testing
The law established that a request for paternity blood testing may be commenced by the filing of a verified complaint by the mother or father, with the mother or father as plaintiff, or by the guardian or best friend of a child or children born out of wedlock.
The mother in the Ban case argued that the phrase “born out of wedlock” modified all the listed parties, effectively negating the right of a putative father to seek paternity testing when the mother is already married. The court did not agree with the mother’s interpretation of the statute. The court decided that the word “father” in the statute included any putative father.
Uniform Parentage Act and the Best Interests of the Child
The Ban case established certain limitations to a putative father seeking paternity testing. For example, a court weighs the request for paternity testing with the best interests of the child. This is because the court must assess the impact of a paternity challenge on the child and their well-being.
The court in Ban also discussed cases where the Uniform Parentage Act was adopted. This Act states that a legal father may be one of the following, according to the Uniform Law Commission:
- an unrebutted presumed father (i.e. a man married to the birth mother at the time of conception, or a man who resided in the same household as the child during its first two years of life, and openly held the child out as his own)
- a man who acknowledged paternity
- an adjudicated father resulting from a judgment in a paternity action
- an adoptive father
- a man who consents to an assisted reproduction
- an adjudicated father in a proceeding confirming a gestational agreement
Arizona has not adopted the Uniform Parentage Act. Nevertheless, Arizona courts have interpreted its laws to allow a putative father, when it is in the best interests of the child, to initiate a paternity challenge.
Tempe Paternity Lawyer
As you can see, paternity testing can get complicated and it is often quite contentious. The Law Office of Ronald L. Kossack is here to help. We have assisted residents of Tempe and surrounding areas with all types of family law matters including paternity. To speak with a lawyer contact us online or by calling 480-345-2652.