Benefits Of Establishing Paternity

Generally, paternity only becomes an issue when a child is born out of wedlock. Notably, if a child is born or conceived during a marriage or in a state-registered domestic partnership with each other, Washington law presumes that the husband is the child’s biological father, automatically granting him legal rights as the child’s father. However, there are situations where paternity becomes an issue – if the mother had extramarital affairs or if the child was born out of wedlock.

Washington Establishing Paternity Attorneys

At Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson, our attorneys are committed to helping you with your paternity concerns and legal issues. Establishing paternity in the state of Washington can be a complex process without some legal counsel. We can advise you of the different options available and what may work best for your unique circumstances.

Feel secure and confident in the decisions you make concerning you and your family. Call (206) 712-2756 to arrange an initial consultation today. Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson serves clients in Seattle, Washington and surrounding areas.

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Why Does Paternity Matter?

Paternity is extremely important because if a man is not legally recognized as the father of the child, he will not have any legal rights to the child, including parenting time, any custody, or the opportunity to make decisions concerning the child’s educational, medical, religious, or housing arrangements. Additionally, if something happens to the child’s father before paternity is established, the child will not be entitled to government benefits through the father, such as social security insurance, health insurance, and veteran benefits.

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How To Establish Paternity

There are a variety of ways in which paternity can be established. The three main ways to establish paternity are through an affidavit, a DNA test, and a court order. If the mother of the child was married when the child was born, the State of Washington will automatically name her husband as the child’s father, which in the past could not be challenged, but now can be done through a paternity action.

Assertion And Acknowledgment Of Parentage

An assertion of parentage is a voluntary and legally binding statement of paternity signed by a child’s parents. When both parties sign the document, the father is entitled to parenting time and will be obligated to support the child financially. In Washington, the assertion form asks for the father’s information and signature. This ensures that no one is forced to support a child that may not be theirs.

Under Washington law, this document provides the father with the right to assert a claim for parenting time or custody of the child, but it does not automatically give those things to him. Instead, the assertion form is used in a process that continues with an “Acknowledgement of Paternity” or a court-ordered process to establish parental rights. Therefore, it is essential to consult with a family law attorney when determining paternity because it can be tricky and requires an understanding of the rights and obligations placed on the biological father.

DNA Test

If a man wants confirmation before acknowledging that he is the father of a child, the parties can agree to a DNA test. Unless there is a court order, the purported father and the mother must agree to the DNA test because the mother has the right to decline the medical procedure performed on her child. However, a DNA test is generally non-invasive and merely requires a mouth swab from the father and the child. Once the swabs are taken, a lab will compare each person’s DNA for specific genetic markers, which are generally accurate. It is estimated that DNA tests establish paternity with 99.999% accuracy.

Paternity Action

In some cases, an alleged parent will not agree to acknowledge the child through an assertion and acknowledgment of paternity and will not voluntarily get a DNA test to prove paternity. In this case, a few parties may file a paternity action – the mother, biological father, the division of child support, and a few others in certain cases. In the past, if someone was married, it was almost impossible to override the presumption that the husband was the father of the child; however, under the Washington Parentage Act, an unmarried biological father can petition the court to establish paternity even if another man is on the child’s birth certificate.

Typically, the party seeking to establish paternity will file an action with the court, and the court will issue a summons and order DNA tests to determine if the man is the child’s father. After the test results, the court will enter an order legally establishing the child’s paternity. At this stage, the parents can agree on custody and parenting time, or the court may issue a temporary order on custody and parenting time and schedule a hearing to deal with the custody matter in more detail. In the end, the court will do what it believes is best for the child.

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Benefits Of Establishing Paternity

There are various benefits that people may not consider when they fail to establish paternity for their child. For example, if the biological father is established, the medical history of the child’s parents can be known, and any genetic diseases can be caught more easily. Additionally, financial support from two parents is usually better than from one, and the child will be entitled to health and life insurance through both parents. The child will also be eligible to receive social security, pensions, veterans’ benefits, and an inheritance from an established parent that passes away.

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Additional Resources

Washington State Department of Health │ Assertion of Parentage – Visit the official website of the Washington State Department of Health to review an assertion of parentage form.

Washington State Legislature │ Uniform Parentage Act – Visit the official Washington legislature website to review Washington’s Uniform Parentage Act.

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Seattle Paternity Lawyer | King County, WA

The paternity process can be complicated, but a skilled paternity lawyer can guide you through the process. If you would like to establish paternity in Washington, contact Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson. Seattle family law attorney Shana Thompson has been assisting families with a wide array of family law and child custody issues, including questions of paternity. She understands the challenges you face in bringing a paternity action and can provide you with the assertive advocacy you deserve in order to protect your rights.

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accept clients throughout King County and Snohomish County including but not limited to Shoreline, Bellevue, Ballard, Tacoma, Everett, and Edmonds. Call (206) 712-2756 today to schedule an initial consultation.

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