How Do You Legally Establish Paternity?

Though a large part of our practice is centered around divorce cases, we also represent clients who have other types of family law matters to address. Paternity is one of them, and there are a number of different circumstances that can call for proof of paternity. Before we get into them, we should point out the fact that paternity is automatically granted to the husband when a married woman has a child. This also applies to couples who are in registered domestic partnerships.

When a child is born outside of wedlock, there is no automatic presumption of paternity. There are legal steps that must be taken to establish it, and the form that must be executed is called a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. Both parents have to sign it, and in many cases, this will be done right after the baby’s birth before the mother and child are discharged from the hospital. It can also be executed at a later date through the Division of Child Support Office.

Other situations can get a bit more complicated. In some cases, a man will refute a contention that he is the father of the child. This is one type of situation that would require the establishment of paternity, and sometimes it works in the reverse. A man may feel as though he is the father of a child, but the mother may contend that he is not.

Under circumstances like these when there is no concurrence, either party, the child in question, or the state can initiate a court proceeding to determine paternity. We should point out the fact that the Division of Child Support can sometimes get involved in these matters. Ultimately, a Petition to Establish Parentage is filed, and if the parties can’t reach a voluntary agreement with regard to paternity, the court has the power to order a DNA test to provide closure.

Contact a Local Seattle-Tacoma Family Law Attorney

Our firm can help if you would like to discuss paternity or any other family law matter with a licensed attorney. You can set up an initial consultation right now if you give us a call at 253-272-9459.

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