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FAQ - Paternity

Does an unwed mother automatically have sole legal decision making authority of the children?

Legal decision making authority and parenting time are legal constructs that are used to decide which parent has the ability to make decisions over a child and when a parent has the right to see their child. They are determined through a court process and finalized by a court order.

A parent is not required to have a court order to make decisions for their child. An unwed mother with no legal father would have the ability to make decisions for her child. A father who is not married to the mother of his child has several different ways to establish himself as the legal father and gain decision making ability. If there is no court order, law enforcement agencies, schools, and doctors may have different and conflicting policies on how they determine which parent has legal decision making authority. To establish legal decision making authority and parenting time, the local superior court may have forms with instructions available that the person can prepare, or the party may seek the help of an attorney. The office of the clerk can inform the person of the current filing fee.


pdf Things to Know About Legal Decision-Making and Parenting Time (491 KB)

pdf Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona's Guide for Parents Living Apart (1.22 MB)


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