from the Superior Court in Maricopa County The Honorable
Annielaurie Van Wie, Judge Pro Tem No. JA47249
of the Court of Appeals, Division One 238 Ariz. 174, 358 P.3d
595 (App. 2015)
D. Rosanelli (argued), Phoenix, Attorney for David C. and Kim
W. Bell (argued), Higley, Attorney for Alexis S.
JUSTICE BRUTINEL authored the opinion of the Court, in which
CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE PELANDER, JUSTICE
TIMMER, and JUSTICE BOLICK joined.
Petitioners David C. and Kim C, the proposed adoptive
parents, seek to reinstate their adoption of A.C., arguing
that the failure of Alexis S. ("Father") to timely
register as a putative father under A.R.S. § 8-106.01(E)
precludes his paternity case and his right to contest the
adoption. Because Father timely filed and served a paternity
action in compliance with A.R.S. § 8-106(J), we hold
that he preserved his right to establish paternity despite
his failure to strictly comply with the putative father
A.C. was conceived in January 2013. The parents separated two
months later and Mother refused further contact with Father.
Aware of Mother's pregnancy and wanting to be involved in
his child's life, Father unsuccessfully attempted to
reestablish contact. Even though she knew the identity of the
father-and of his interest in parenting-at the time of
A.C.'s birth, Mother signed an affidavit of paternity
falsely stating that A.C.'s father was unknown. She also
signed a consent to adoption in favor of Petitioners, and
A.C. was released into their care.
In accordance with A.R.S. § 8-106.01(H), thirty days
after A.C.'s birth Petitioners searched Arizona's
putative fathers registry and found no notice of claim of
paternity associated with A.C. They filed a petition to adopt
A.C. and, beginning on November 25, 2013, published a
"John Doe" notice of the pending adoption.
Coincidently, on that same day Father filed a paternity
action, having learned of the child's birth and gender.
He served Mother two days later, but she never informed
Petitioners of the paternity case. Unaware of the pending
paternity action, the juvenile court granted A.C.'s
adoption by Petitioners.
Father learned of the adoption in February 2014 and
immediately amended his paternity petition to include
previously unknown information about A.C. (name, place of
birth, etc.). Petitioners moved to dismiss the paternity
case, and Father moved to set aside the adoption. Paternity
testing established Father as A.C.'s biological father.
Despite Father having never filed a notice of claim of
paternity with the putative fathers registry as required by
A.R.S. § 8-106.01, the juvenile court set aside the
adoption, concluding that Father had timely filed and served
his paternity action. The court found that he was entitled to
notice of the adoption proceedings under A.R.S. §
8-111(5) and that the lack of notice violated his right to
due process of law.
The court of appeals affirmed. David C. v. Alexis
S., 238 Ariz. 174, 179 ¶ 22, 358 P.3d 595, 600
(App. 2015). It reasoned that Father filed and served a
paternity action on Mother within two days of the initial
John Doe publication and then diligently pursued that case.
Id. Accordingly, Father "retained the right to
assert his parental rights under § 8-106(G)" even
though he failed to register as required by §
8-106.01(A)-(B). Id. The court of appeals
distinguished Marco C. v. Sean C, 218 Ariz. 216, 221
¶ 18, 181 P.3d 1137, 1142 (App. 2008), in which a
different panel of the court held that failure to register
with the putative fathers registry within thirty days of the
child's birth rendered a biological father's consent
to his child's adoption unnecessary. David C,
238 Ariz. at 178 ¶¶ 20-21, 358 P.3d at 599. And the
court disagreed with Marco C. "insofar as it
holds that filing with the putative fathers registry is a
necessary precondition in all cases in which a father asserts
his parental rights." Id. at 178 ¶ 21, 358
P.3d at 599.
We granted review to consider the interaction between A.R.S.
§§ 8-106(G) and 8-106.01(E) and to resolve the
conflict in the court of appeals' opinions. We have
jurisdiction pursuant to article 6, ...