Establishing Paternity in Washington

Goldberg Jones Child Custody, Paternity Leave a Comment

When two married people have a baby, the law views those people as the child’s parents. But what about unmarried couples? It’s happening more and more. With that, it’s important to determine right away, legally speaking, a child’s father. That sets up the question: How do you go about establishing paternity in Washington?

Establishing Paternity in Washington

The good news is establishing paternity in Washington state is a relatively straightforward process. All you have to do is meet a few criteria or follow a few simple steps and your legal status is set.

  • As stated earlier, if you and your spouse are married at the time of the baby’s birth, the law considers you the father. Unless there is evidence to the contrary this holds most of the time.
  • If you’re not married when the baby is born, both parents can fill out an Acknowledgement of Parentage form. This also serves to establish paternity in Washington. This can be and usually is filled out at the hospital at the time of birth.
  • Finally, if there is any doubt, the situation may call for a paternity test. While a genetic test sounds daunting, it’s really as simple and painless as getting a cheek swab. Depending on the circumstances, this may require a court order, which likely calls for the help of an attorney.

Related Reading: What To Expect From A Child Custody Hearing

What Now?

Once you establish paternity, it’s time to move forward.

If it turns out that you are not the father and you don’t wish to play that role in the child’s life then that’s the end of the story. The law doesn’t require any more of you. You’re off the hook, legally speaking. You do need to fill out the appropriate paperwork, but after that, you’re done. If the mother petitioned for child support then the court should dismiss the case.

Still, some people choose to help raise a child that isn’t biologically theirs. It’s a personal choice and entirely up to the people involved.

If it turns out you are the father, that means something entirely different. You have, barring extreme circumstances, the right to remain a part of your child’s life.

On the other side of that coin, you also have the obligation to help provide and care for your child. Depending on the nature and status of your relationship with the mother, this looks different from case to case.

  • You may live together and raise the child as a couple.
  • If not, you have the right to pursue custody or visitation.
  • If you’re not the custodial parent, you’ll likely have to pay child support to help cover the regular expenses of raising a child.

How this plays out for you moving forward hinges on the situation and the parents. Depending on the specifics, it may be in your best interests to hire a child custody attorney. An experienced professional guides you through any legal hurdles you need to leap and makes sure you get what you need once you establish paternity.

Related Reading: What’s In A Parenting Plan?

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