Establishing Paternity In Washington
Paternity goes beyond just guaranteeing a source of child support for the mother. It is about having a legally enforceable bond between a child and his or her father and maintaining the rights inherent in that relationship. That is the only way to assure parenting time, financial support, and complete medical histories for children.
However, when parents are not speaking or the identity of the father is disputed, this can become a touchy matter very quickly. Many times, it requires court action to secure a DNA test and enforce the rights and obligations associated with paternity. Here is how you can establish paternity and enjoy the benefits that make this step worthwhile.
The Voluntary Route
The most obvious voluntary route to establishing paternity is through legal partnerships. Marriage and domestic partnership registration create a presumption of any children born during that union. The presumption is considered true unless either party disputes that conclusion.
However, not all people wish to remain as a couple and couples get divorced, and that requires additional steps, even when admitting paternity is voluntary. In cases of unmarried parties, a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” is required to establish paternity. The form gets signed by both parents to confirm the identity of the father. Normally, this is accomplished at the hospital after the child is born. However, parents can also get the form from a Division of Child Support field office and file it later.
Once signed and notarized, the form must be submitted to the Center for Health Statistics. After filing, the father indicated on the form is considered the legal father of the child and is subject to the rights and responsibilities required with that role.
The Litigation Route
While much less preferred by some people, sometimes the only way to establish paternity is by filing a petition through the court. In these cases, either parent can file a petition to establish parentage and request court intervention in the matter. This action is not limited to mothers who cannot get a father to acknowledge a child; sometimes, fathers frequently file these motions if the mother refuses contact with their suspected children. It is often the only way to confirm paternal rights and assure support and parenting time.
If the other party does not answer the petition, a default order automatically establishes paternity. The filing party can then pursue other actions including child support orders and parenting time schedules. If the response to the petition denies paternity, the court orders a DNA test that indicates with nearly 100 percent certainty the identity of the father. Once there is a positive match, the court issues an order establishing paternity. Custody, child support, and parenting time procedures often follow.
Completing paternity procedures is the only way fathers are assured parenting time and participation in their children’s lives. For mothers, it helps with sharing parental responsibilities and costs of child rearing. Sometimes, fathers can have better access to health insurance and other benefits that can make child care easier for all involved. This is an often necessary process to help children benefit from the guidance of both parents.
Contact Twyford Law
If you are facing a paternity matter in Spokane, WA, contact Twyford Law Office for assistance. We can guide you through essential steps and help you with any parenting time or support issues that arise as a result of establishing paternity. Call (855) 980-0678 today or fill out our contact form.