This is a very common child custody question. Somewhere along the line, it became somewhat of an urban myth that children get to decide where they want to live once they reach a certain age. Many people express their belief that this age is somewhere around 12, 13 or 14 years of age. In Arizona, this is simply not true.
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.