My question involves paternity law for the State of: AZ
Hello... Please bare with me because I really, really need some advice... I will try to make this as concise as possible, but it's a bit complicated. I am in need of some serious guidance on the following scenario:
My ex-husband and I have an 8 year old son (born in 2001) and we've been divorced for 5+ years now (divorced in 2004). Approx. 7 weeks ago, I picked my son up from summer school on a Monday afternoon which followed a weekend that he spent at his dad's. When I arrived, the teacher said I needed to have a talk with my son he was upset that day and was talking to the other students about some very personal family matters. When we got into the car, he started crying and said, "Daddy said you're a cheater and that I'm not his real kid". I couldn't believe my ears! I couldnít believe that his dad would say that, in the manner that he did, whether it was true or not. It's just so cruel and irresponsible. I was trying to appropriately respond to my heartbroken little boy but without having any prior knowledge of this accusation, it was difficult. Later that evening, I was checking my email and there was something in my inbox from my ex-husband. The email said, "I provided full disclosure to the kid" and there was a DNA test result stating there is a 0% chance my ex-husband is the biological father of my child.
Rewind 9 years-
I got married in 1997 and my husband turned out to be both emotionally and mentally abusive so our relationship was a rollercoaster from the start. My actions, however, are unacceptable and I am in no way saying this excuses what I did. In 2000, I had a one night stand with someone I knew through a friend. A month or two after, I found out I was pregnant. I didn't give it much thought because again, it was only that one time, and I hadn't had any contact with him since then. It was kind of like... out of sight out of mind. He was not married, but he lived with a lady and they had two children together. In 2003, he surfaced after his girlfriend took their two children and fled to Texas to get away from him. He wanted to start a relationship with me, but I wasn't willing. When he didn't get his way, he called my husband and told him that he could be the father of my son. My husband confronted me about it and I told him the truth. I told him I was with the guy once so it was possible, but not likely. He never questioned me about it again and we divorced in 2004.
Back to Current-
A couple of days ago, I received a document from his attorney called, "Petition to Determine Paternity, Amend Birth Certificate, and End Child Support Order". The Petition states that the Respondent Mother (I) perpetrated a fraud on the Petitioner. The DNA test results are also attached. I can't afford an attorney, and I'm not sure what type of action i should take.
The have the following questions:
1. Do I need to file a response with the courts or will a judge simply make a determination without my input?
~The Petition makes no mention of it and there is no specific form for this on the Superior Court website.
2. Is there a statute of limitations to disestablish paternity?
~I would understand if he challenged the paternity 6 years ago when he was told of the possibility, but to do it now seems heartless.
3. Is it acceptable to the courts for a Petition of this nature to have the results of a DNA test attached to it?
~ I read something that said the DNA test needs to be ordered by the judge and that there are decisions that need to be made by the judicial system prior to having knowledge of the test results.
4. If a judge allowed my ex-husband to disestablish paternity, would that terminate any and all rights for visitation with the child?
Points of Concern/Significance:
~My ex-husband has not adhered to the court ordered schedule for parenting time and he has not paid child support since he told my son of this 7 weeks ago. He is supposed to have him every other weekend and every Wednesday night. He has showed up at my sonís school twice to pick him up, randomly and without informing me first, and has shown up at two of my sonís baseball games. Every time this happens, it leaves my son very upset and confused. He always wants to know when heíll see him again.
~I had the child support modified in February and his obligation doubled. He wasn't very happy about that even though heís quite wealthy. I'm quite sure this is at least part of the reason he pursued this paternity issue.
~On this Petition, the attorney specifically states that the Petition be assigned to a particular judge. Is that common practice? It seems strange to me.
Thanks for reading this in its entirety, even though it probably sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer! I really love my boy and want what's in his best interest. His emotional well being will always be my #1 priority.