At present, there is a Father's rights bill moving through the Arizona State Legislature that proposes to give fathers equal custody rights of children born out of wedlock (to unmarried parents) provided there was an acknowledgment of paternity signed by both parents at the time the child was born. A formal acknowledgment can be signed pursuant to existing Arizona laws.
Currently, a mother has full legal custody rights to a child born out of wedlock. This does not change until such time as a Court orders paternity and grants a father custodial rights. Many times this can take many months to achieve. Until then, fathers can be at the mercy of a mother's whim. It is not uncommon for fathers to delay the formal court process as the parents initially get along. Once the parents no longer agree, problems can arise for fathers trying to see their child. A father can go weeks and months without seeing his child while working through the family court system. That is why establishing paternity and custody rights promptly is so important.
Arizona Senate Bill 1492 addressing the Father's rights issue passed the Arizona Senate on March 8, 2012 and is now being considered by the House of Representatives. It could take months for this law to pass - if it manages to do so at all. Until then, please contact Lasiter & Jackson at (602) 234-5900 to determine how to establish your parental right and custody rights.