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What does a father have to do to establish paternity in Washington?

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2021 | Child Custody & Visitation, Family Law |

Having rights to one’s child seems like something no one should have to fight for, but every year, plenty of fathers in the state of Washington find themselves in that very position. If a child is born to unmarried parents, then the father will need to formally establish paternity for him to be able to seek parental rights.

There are two ways to go about establishing paternity in the state of Washington.

1. Voluntarily

The ideal way to establish paternity is to have the father voluntarily accept his role in the child’s life. He can do this by signing an acknowledgment of parentage form, cultivating a parent-child relationship or marrying the child’s mother. In other words, it takes effort on the father’s part to show he wants to be a willing participant in the child’s life.

2. Involuntarily

If the mother or another family member questions the true paternity of a child, it is okay to want scientific proof of parentage. In cases like this, a paternity test can be requested.

This testing is performed by taking a DNA sample from both the father and the child usually after the child’s born, but it can also be completed while the baby is still in utero. Results typically come back within a few weeks. If parentage is confirmed, the father can then pursue physical and/or legal custody of the child in court.

Establishing paternity in Washington is not necessarily a difficult thing to do, it just needs to be done in the right way. Experienced legal counsel can help parents navigate the process of determining parentage.