Establishing paternity in Washington State is very straightforward.
- If your spouse and you were married at the time the baby was born, unless evidence to the contrary is presented, you are considered to be the father.
- If you were not married but both parents fill out a “paternity acknowledgement affidavit”, that serves to establish paternity as well. This can be done in the hospital on the day of the child’s birth.
- Lastly, if there is any doubt that you are indeed the father, you can work with your attorney to obtain a court order for genetic (DNA) testing. It is as simple as getting a cheek swab.
- Of course there’s always the wildcard fourth option of going on the Maury Povitch show but we don’t recommend it.
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. You do need to file the appropriate paperwork with the court but after that is done, you’re off the hook legally. If your ex has petitioned for child support then the case will be dismissed.
If you have been the only father the child has known, we would hope that you would consider continuing on in that role. We understand that you are probably going to be very angry at your ex but that is not the fault of the child and if you cut them off and disown them, the psychological damage can be immeasurable.
On the positive side, the benefits and psychological value of playing the role of father in the life of a child is immeasurable in a positive way. We think that the personal example included in this post illustrates that well.
As with all things divorce and custody related, there are many emotions involved. This can lead to irrational and poor decisions. It is always advisable to work closely with a skilled and experienced attorney in these matters to obtain the best outcome for all involved.