Under Arizona law, when a child is born out of wedlock, the parents may file an acknowledgment of paternity (see form CS-127). Once this acknowledgment is signed and filed, courts operate under the presumption that the man named in the document is the child’s biological father. But what if the man named in the document is not the father? The answer is a paternity nightmare. See Alvarado v. Hon. Thompson/Murrieta, et al., 1 CA-SA 16-0051 (Ariz. Ct. App., May 31, 2016).
Adoptive Parents Seeking Further Parental Legitimacy
A young woman got pregnant and was not married. She intended to put the child up for adoption and informed the biological father of her decision. The biological father asked her about paternity testing, and she refused to talk further with him. A husband and wife wanted to adopt the child. However, they went a step further and actually paid the young woman to sign a sworn acknowledgment of paternity naming the adoptive father as the biological father. This allowed the adoptive parents to obtain a birth certificate listing him as the biological father.
Why This Matters
Being listed as a biological father carries significant weight in Arizona. For example, the biological father can seek to gain custody of the child without a best-interest-of-the-child adoption hearing. The biological father can also seek visitation rights.
All was well with the adoptive parents for three years. There were no issues with what they had done. For all intents and purposes, the adoptive father was viewed as the biological father. However, this suddenly changed when the true biological father filed for divorce from his wife. She sought child support and he denied the child was actually his. The wife tracked down the biological father and asked him to do a paternity test. He agreed and the test showed that he was the biological father.
As a result of the paternity test, the court set aside the paternity acknowledgment and awarded custody of the child to the biological father.
This was a somewhat surprising decision since there are specific limitations placed on challenging an acknowledgment of paternity. For example, a person who signs the paternity acknowledgment can only rescind it within sixty days. Once sixty days has elapsed, the acknowledgment can be challenged within six months, but only if there is sufficient evidence to show fraud, mistake or duress. In this case, the evidence was ample that the adoptive father committed fraud by paying the mother to list him as the biological father.
Tempe Paternity Lawyer
As you can see, paternity issues can become quite complex. If you are facing a paternity issue, you need to speak with an experienced Tempe, Arizona paternity lawyer. The Law Office of Ronald L. Kossack can help. To schedule a free initial consultation to speak with a Tempe paternity lawyer, contact us online or by calling 480-345-2652.