Establishing paternity is important to secure the right to parent your child. If you fail to legally establish paternity, you have no rights under the law.
The Arizona Department of Economic Security explains there are several ways of establishing paternity. Do note that if the mother is your spouse, paternity is presumed, and you do not have to do anything to make it legal.
You can voluntarily establish paternity with a simple form that you fill out while in the hospital after the baby’s birth. If you and the mother are on good terms, this is the easiest way to do this. You need her signature on the form acknowledging that you are the father. The hospital will then file the form for you.
If you do not file the form while in the hospital, you and the mother can still complete it at the Department of Child Support Services. You must go into the office. Another option is to complete a form and file it with the court.
If there are issues between you and the mother and she will not complete a voluntary form to acknowledge you as the father, then you will need to go to court. The court will usually order a genetic test that will require samples from you, the mother and the child. The test will let the court know if you are the biological father. If so, the court will establish your legal paternity.
Do note that establishing paternity does not establish custody or child support. Those are separate issues that you will need to go through the court to set up.