Do Unmarried Parents Have Equal Custody Rights In Arizona? | Law Offices of Gillespie Shields

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Do Unmarried Parents Have Equal Custody Rights In Arizona?

Unmarried parents in Arizona have the same protections as married parents when it comes to child custody and other parental rights. When making judgments, the major consideration for family courts is whether the outcome is in the best interests of the kid rather than the parents.

When parents are not married and there is no court order establishing parental rights, the mother becomes the only legal authority and has the ability to make choices on behalf of the kid. There are no legal rights for the biological father. Before he may be granted parental rights and responsibilities, he must demonstrate paternity.

Until paternity is proved, Arizona law allows the woman to make all plans and choices for the kid without consulting the biological father. The unmarried mother also has the option of keeping the kid away from the father, denying him visiting rights, or arranging for the child’s adoption.

A man might dispute exclusive maternal custody by proving paternity or having the court make a paternity judgment. If the father wants custody, the mother is urged to do so as well. Unless there is a court ruling, Arizona law presumes that both parents bear equal responsibility for the child’s legal decisions.

Establishment of paternity

When it comes to paternity, there is one major distinction between married and unmarried parents: unwed dads must first establish paternity before gaining parental rights and responsibilities.

The legal presumption of fatherhood can be established in three ways:

  • The result of a DNA test indicates that the man is the father with a 95% or more likelihood.
  • If both parents sign the birth certificate of a kid born out of wedlock voluntarily
  • If both parents sign a declaration acknowledging the father’s paternity that is seen and notarized,
  • The judge can overturn the third technique of proving paternity if there is adequate proof that the guy is not the father.

Custody and child support are affected by a variety of factors

Once paternity is proven, an unmarried father has the same parental rights as a divorced father who was previously married to the mother. He can go to court and ask for equal parenting time and a say in the child’s decisions.

An unwed father who has proven paternity, like a divorced married father, may be refused parenting time if the child’s mother opposes. If the father is drug or alcohol dependent, has a history of abuse or neglect, or is physically unable of child care, an unmarried mother can have sole physical and legal custody of the child.

If one parent’s stability is a concern, the court may award primary custody to the other parent. The judge can order Child and Family Support Services to investigate and report back to the court on their findings.

Arizona law assumes that when both parents raise their children, they do so in the best interests of the kid. In terms of custody, the law no longer favors either the mother or the father, as long as any agreement is established for the child’s wellbeing. 

Furthermore, several states are pursuing shared custody. If a woman desires sole custody, she must explain why shared custody is not in the best interests of the child.

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Factors that determine whether sole or full custody is appropriate

A parent can be given exclusive physical custody of their kid if they meet certain criteria, which means the youngster can only reside with them. This can be upgraded to exclusive physical and legal custody, which means the kid lives with just one parent and that parent makes all of the child’s decisions.

Due to a number of factors, an unwed mother may be granted sole physical and legal custody of her child:

  • If the father is physically unable to look after the child.
  • If the male has a serious issue with alcohol or drugs.
  • If the male has a history of domestic violence, be cautious.
  • If the father hasn’t had any contact with the child in a long time.
  • If the father has failed or refused to pay child support.

In sole custody cases, the child’s age is also a consideration. In general, it is in the best interests of young children to grow up in one family. The court usually gives sole physical custody to the mother since she is the primary caretaker for very young children.

When it comes to older children, the court takes into account if the child prefers to reside with one of the parents. Both parents can, however, enjoy joint legal custody and share decision-making authority over the child.


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