Serving Metro Phoenix

Main Office
7537 East McDonald Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85250

Experienced Child Custody
& Support Representation

  • · Child Custody Petitions
  • · Child Support
  • · Parental Rights and Visitation
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Unmarried Parents

Under Arizona law, marriage does not affect the parent-child relationship. Even if the mother and father are not married, they still have the same rights and obligations towards their child as a married couple. If unmarried parents cannot agree on how to raise their child, the courts can assist single parents in settling paternity issues, child custody arrangements, child support arrangements and visitation schedules.

Scottsdale Unmarried Parents Lawyer

Unmarried parents’ main concern is with the welfare and safety of their children. The Daly Law Firm is dedicated to making sure that child custody disputes between single parents are handled in an effective way. The most important problems to solve with unmarried couples are the paternity of the child, child custody, child support and visitation. Call The Daly Law Firm at (480) 607-8308 for a free consultation regarding your rights as a single parent.


Unmarried Parents Information Center


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Why should single parents establish paternity?

It is beneficial to establish the paternity of the child as soon as possible because:

  • Paternity is necessary in order for the mother to get a child support order in Arizona.
  • A legal paternity acknowledgement helps to strengthen the bond between the child and the dad.
  • Official paternity will help the father enforce visitation and child custody rights.

If you have a child out of wed lock the maternity of the child is automatically established because the mother gave birth to the child. The paternity of the child is not automatically established. The father of the child can voluntarily assume paternity by signing the birth certificate after the child is born or signing an affidavit admitting paternity.

DNA and other genetic or scientific testing can be used to accurately determine if the man is the father of the child. It is best to establish paternity either by DNA testing or voluntary acknowledgement because a man has only a limited time to contest paternity.

If the man wants to challenge paternity after he has assumed the father figure role, the court will rule in the best interest of the child. Arizona courts work under the default assumption that it is in the child’s best interest to have two parents. The man might still have support obligations for a child that is not biologically his so it is better to establish from the beginning the paternity of the child to avoid later complications.


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How is custody determined between unmarried parents?

If the unmarried parents have a cordial relationship then they can come to an out of court custody arrangement. The court would decide custody in the same manner as if the couple were in a divorce arguing about child custody.

The main determination is physical custody and legal custody.

  • Physical custody refers to where the child spends the most time. For an example the child can live with the dad and visit the mom.
  • Legal custody refers to the parent with legal decision making authority in matters like health, education and religion.

Even if the parents were never married, the Arizona court still favors joint physical and legal custody providing it is in the best interest of the child. It is essential for paternity to be established if the man wants to fight for custody of the child.


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How is visitation determined between single parents?

Arizona’s default position on visitation is both parents should have 50/50 time with the child. However, it is not always possible to evenly split parenting time. The court will work out a parenting schedule if the parents are having difficulty coming to an agreement.

Even if the father or mother is not paying child support, he or she is still entitled to visitation.


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I am a single parent. Do I have to go to court to get child support?

Child support does not have to be ordered by a court. It is possible for single parents to make their own arrangements concerning child support. Arizona has official guidelines for calculating child support. Make sure to keep accurate records if you are making child support payments without a court order. If you have the records of your child support payments, you will avoid having to pay back child support if a court order is put in place in the future.


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Do I need to get a divorce even if I am not married?

Arizona does not have common law marriage, but it does recognize the common law marriages of other states. If children are involved it is helpful to get legal representation and set out things like child custody and child support in official court orders.


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How do I terminate parental rights?

It is possible to terminate the parental rights of the other parent in extreme situations such as:

  • Neglect and abuse
  • Long prison sentence
  • Chronic drug or alcohol abuse

In order to terminate the rights of the other parent you will have to go to court and show sufficient evidence. The court will decide if terminating the parental rights is in the best interest of the child.

It is also possible for you to voluntarily terminate your parental rights. You will have to file a petition and get a court order to voluntarily terminate your parental rights. There are a number of reasons to terminate parental rights:

  • You don’t want the obligations of supporting a child.
  • You don’t have a meaningful relationship with the child.
  • The other parent is getting married and wants the step-father or step-mother to adopt the child.
  • Both of the parents are giving the child up for adoption.

Consult a lawyer about the benefits and consequences of terminating parental rights.


Daly Law Firm, PLLC – Phoenix Unmarried Parents Lawyer

Unmarried couples with children have to deal with paternity and child custody issues. You need an experienced Scottsdale family lawyer familiar with custody disputes. The Daly Law Firm has the knowledge and experience to help you successfully reach a child custody agreement. If you are going through a child custody disagreement in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Maricopa County area, don’t hesitate to call me at (480) 607-8308 for a free consultation.

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