Washington Family Law Attorneys Can Help Establish Paternity
Establishing paternity of a child is critical for both the father and the child. When the identity of the biological father is in question, issues with child custody, financial support, Social Security, and a variety of other factors concerning the minor child arise.
At HLO, we can help you navigate the changing circumstances of a domestic relationship by verifying the identity of the child's father. We also assist with divorce cases and child support issues.
Grounds for Challenging Paternity in Washington State
Under Washington law, you cannot file a suit to challenge a child's paternity for the purpose of harassing the other party. Instead, you must have a legitimate reason to challenge a child's paternity. Legitimate reasons include:
- Infidelity: As a male in an opposite-sex marriage or relationship, you can challenge paternity if your spouse is unfaithful during the time of conception.
- Sterility: If you are sterile and cannot be the biological father, you may also challenge paternity.
- Invalid Lab Results: If you believe the paternity test was inaccurate, you can contest the results.
If a child is conceived during marriage, the husband is the presumed parent. However, you can contest this legal presumption when infidelity
is suspected. That said, you must present the court with some evidence that the other parent was indeed unfaithful during the time of the child's conception.
What Are the Benefits of Establishing Paternity (Parentage)?
The benefits of establishing paternity will vary based on whether you are the primary custodial parent or not. If you are the mother and have full child custody, establishing paternity in the court will help you achieve the appropriate amount of child support.
As a father, a paternity acknowledgment means you can seek visitation or shared child custody on the parenting plan. You can petition the court to enact a fair parenting plan based on the unique circumstances of the case.
We represent both parents in family law cases. Whether you are the mother of a child who needs a paternity affidavit for child support purposes or a male who has been falsely named as a child's father, our team can help.
How to Establish Paternity in Washington State
There are three main ways that parents can establish paternity in Washington State. They are as follows:
The court presumes that the male half of an opposite-sex marriage is the father unless there is evidence that calls the paternity into question. For instance, if the mother was unfaithful during the marriage, the husband could contest whether he is the father.
If the parents agree on who the father is at the time of birth and are unmarried, they can fill out a paternity acknowledgment form. However, if the parents are unmarried and one party contests paternity, then the identity of the father would have to be verified.
If there is any doubt about paternity, law firms will likely need to get involved and obtain a court order for a paternity test. This test verifies the DNA of the child and compares it to the presumed father.
What Happens After Paternity Is Established?
What happens after paternity is established will vary based on several factors, including the outcome of the test and the nature of your relationship with the mother.
If the test reveals that you are not the child's biological father, you can have yourself removed from their birth certificate and petition the court to remove any support requirements. If you are currently married, negative test results could also support your divorce proceedings and help you obtain favorable terms.
If you are the father, you now have custody rights and are able to remain a part of the child's life. In the event that you and the mother are separated, you may also have to provide monetary support. If the mother is restricting access to your child, you may have to seek legal action, such as a court-ordered parenting plan.
Either way, settling paternity questions allows you to move forward with your life. You can begin building a relationship with your child. On the other hand, if you are not the father, you can remove yourself from unhealthy circumstances.
How Long Does a Father Have to Establish Paternity in Washington?
There is no statute of limitations on paternity cases in Washington State. This means that the child, mother, or father can file a petition to establish paternity at any time. However, it is best to address paternity questions as early as possible so you and the child can move on with your lives in the healthiest way possible.
Reach Out to Hodgson Law Office to Establish Paternity
Contact our legal team for assistance with establishing paternity and child custody in the state of Washington.Free Consultation