Paternity gives rights, but also responsibility

By: 
QUENTIN TOLBY, Lessons from the Bench

I was conducting an order of protection hearing in the Gila Bend court last week. The girlfriend had been issued an order of protection to prevent the boyfriend from contacting her or going to her home.
The boyfriend asked for a hearing, saying, “She is keeping me from seeing my kids.”
I asked, “Are you married?”
He said, “No.”
I said, “Have you filed for paternity?”
He asked, “What is paternity?”
I said, “Filing for paternity will establish your legal rights to the children.”
He said, “My name is on the birth certificate.”
I said, “That is not proof of paternity. The hospital will put any name on the birth certificate you ask them to. As it stands right now, you have no legal rights to these children. If you get married or establish paternity, you get rights, but you also get responsibility until these children are 18 years of age. The only question before the court is, did you commit an act of domestic violence? If you did, the order stays in place.
“Your girlfriend and her father said there was a large scratch and bruises on her arm. You did not deny there was a confrontation. I find you committed an act of domestic violence. The order of protection stays in place. If you really want to be a part of these children’s lives, you need to financially support them and go to Superior Court and file for paternity. The mother of these children could legally move and disappear, and you would have nothing to say about it.
“If you had been married at the time the baby was born, you would have equal legal standing, but you chose to have children out of wedlock; you have no legal standing until you establish your legal rights. Paternity gives you certain rights, but it also gives you responsibility.”
The young man did not appreciate what I said. More than likely, they will kiss and make up, cancel the order of protection and nothing will change until the next time they get into a fight and they will be back in court asking for another order of protection.
Lesson: The courts can only do so much.

The Glendale Star

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Peoria Times

Peoria Times
7122 N. 59th Ave
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