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Are you married or unmarried?

Mother’s rights are different if you are unmarried or if you are married going through a divorce.

Married Mothers

If you are a married mother, you and the child’s father are presumed to have an equal legal right to see the children and participate in major decisions about the children, such as medical treatment, education or religious training. Legal decision-making refers to who makes the major decisions for your children such as health and education.

Married mothers (and married fathers) have joint legal decision-making until a Court says otherwise. The parenting time schedule determines when each parent gets to see the children.

Unmarried Mothers

If you are an unmarried mother, and paternity and/or the father’s rights have not yet been established, you have a lot more power than an unmarried father when it comes to your children. You may give the child up for adoption, take the child away from the father, not allow the father to see the child at all or make any other significant decisions all without the father’s consent or permission.

However, once paternity is established and the unmarried father files a Petition to Establish, he may potentially obtain rights to see the child and make decisions regarding the child.

Custodial Interference in Arizona Law

The Statute in Arizona A.R.S. 13-1302. Custodial interference; child born out of wedlock; defenses; classification A. A person commits custodial interference if, knowing or having reason to know that the person has no legal right to do so, the person does one of the following:

  1. Takes, entices or keeps from lawful custody any child, or any person who is incompetent, and who is entrusted by authority of law to the custody of another person or institution.
  2. Before the entry of a court order determining custodial rights, takes, entices or withholds any child from the other parent denying that parent access to any child.
  3. If the person is one of two persons who have joint legal custody of a child takes, entices or withholds from physical custody the child from the other custodian.
  4. At the expiration of access rights outside this state, intentionally fails or refuses to return or impedes the return of a child to the lawful custodian.
  5. If a child is born out of wedlock, the mother is the legal custodian of the child for the purposes of this section until paternity is established and a court determines custody or access.

UNMARRIED MOTHER’S RIGHTS

In Arizona, if you are an unmarried mother, you don’t have to do anything to gain rights to your child. Unmarried mothers have all of the rights to the child until a Court says otherwise or that unmarried mother agrees with the unmarried father to give him rights to the child.

UNMARRIED FATHER’S RIGHTS

Once an unmarried father establishes paternity and files a Petition to Establish, he may gain rights to the child. There are a number of ways to establish paternity as the child’s father. The most common, and also the easiest, way is possible when the mother and the father both agree who the father is.

AGREEMENTS BETWEEN UNMARRIED PARENT

When there is agreement, and both parents are willing to work together, it is just a matter of getting the right paperwork to the right place. The parents can sign an Affidavit of Paternity and file it with the court. The court will also want to know the parenting time and legal decision-making arrangements as well as the child support.