Experienced Seattle Parentage Attorney
Picture this – you and your romantic partner have children in Washington, but you are not married to each other. After some time, you decide to end the relationship. Given that you were not married to each other, you won’t need to go through divorce to establish parental responsibilities after divorce. Instead, you’ll need to go through a process commonly known as parentage. More specifically, for the best possible outcome, you’ll need to work with an experienced Seattle parentage attorney and paternity lawyer, preferably from Zafiro Law.
The same applies if either of you believe there’s more than one possible parent of the child or if one of the parents declines to sign the Acknowledgement of Parentage form or is not named as a parent on the child’s birth certificate.
How Zafiro Law Can Help
The issue of parentage isn’t one of the easiest to deal with without legal counsel. In fact, many family law experts argue that parentage is more complex than an actual divorce. This is especially difficult if one parent disputes being the child’s parent or wants to be officially recognized as the child’s parent.
Regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding the case, Zafiro Law might be able to help you obtain the best possible outcome. Parentage attorney and paternity lawyer Katrina Zafiro has handled countless cases of parentage disputes in King and Snohomish county for almost two decades.
As a result, we know the challenges parents face, especially when they decide to end their relationship. For this reason, we provide crucial legal advice our clients need to overcome such challenges while protecting their best interests.
What Are the Ways to Establish Paternity in Washington State?
In Washington state, you can establish parentage either voluntarily or involuntarily. Let’s discuss both scenarios.
Establishing Parentage Voluntarily in Washington
If the child was conceived through sexual intercourse between the two parents, the parents might establish parentage – voluntarily – by signing an Acknowledgment of Parentage form. The child’s parents usually sign this form at the hospital after the child’s birth.
The form must be signed in front of a notary and then sent to the Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics. The state will then use the information from the form to create the child’s birth certificate and include the father’s name in the birth certificate to confirm parentage.
It’s important to note that the mother doesn’t need to prove parentage unless when acting as a surrogate or if the child is adopted.
Suppose the child is born using assisted reproduction technology. In that case, the parents might need additional documentation to establish parentage. Precisely, they might need to sign an Assisted Reproductive Agreement before the beginning of the assisted reproductive procedure. The main goal of this agreement is to confirm parentage and establish the parent’s rights and responsibilities.
Establishing Parentage Involuntarily in Washington
A Washington court might order parents to establish parentage. This usually happens when there’s a lawsuit to establish child parentage, also known as an ‘Adjudication of Parentage.’ This lawsuit may be filed by:
- the child’s mother
- any person claiming to be the child’s father;
- the child if they’re old enough;
- another parent of the child;
- the Washington State Division of Child Support Enforcement; or
- a Licensed Washington State child adoption agency.
The court can order either parent to undergo a DNA test to establish parentage. This then allows the court to make the best decision regarding parental duties and responsibilities.
Note that in Washington, the court can’t order DNA testing under the following circumstances:
- to establish the parentage of a sperm or egg donor; or
- to challenge the parentage of an individual who is considered a parent under a valid Surrogacy Agreement Assisted Reproduction Agreement.
What Happens If You Can’t Establish Parentage Biologically?
The state will consider the de facto parentage rule in such a situation. This rule would grant a certain party legal parentage rights if they raised the child as their own. However, for this to work, the individual must not be the child’s biological parent.
In addition, such an individual must have:
- lived with the child for a significant period;
- consistently taken care of the child;
- taken complete and permanent parental responsibilities of the child without expecting any compensation;
- treated the child as their own biological child; and
- established a strong parental relationship with the child.
That aside, the parent must demonstrate that ending the relationship with the child will not be in the child’s best interest.
How Can You Petition for a Paternity Test in Washington State?
As mentioned earlier, you can petition for a paternity test by seeking a court order. This option is common when one party disputes paternity. To do this, you’ll need to file a Petition to Establish Parentage with the Superior Court located in the county of the child’s residence.
When the other party receives the court order, they must appear in court as required. However, if they don’t appear in court, the judge might enter a default judgment, declaring the other party the legal parent of the child. As a result, the judge may grant the petitioner legal permission to seek child support from the absent parent.
What Court Orders Can You Get Out of a Parentage Case in Washington State?
A judge can order one party to undergo DNA testing to establish parentage. This usually happens when one parent disputes that they are the child’s parent.
The court can also order one parent to appear in court when the other party files a Petition to Establish parentage.
Depending on the outcome of the case, the court can issue a residential schedule or parenting plan after establishing parentage.
Do You Need a Seattle Parentage Attorney?
The issue of parentage is one of the most complex to navigate, especially without the help of a Seattle paternity attorney. If you need help establishing parentage, contact Zafiro Law as soon as possible. Our family law firm serves Seattle, Kirkland, Bellevue, Shoreline, Renton, Kent, Issaquah, Mercer Island, Redmond, Sammamish, Mountlake Terrace, Lake Forest Park, Bothell, Mukilteo, Mill Creek, Edmonds, and the surrounding areas. Call us at (206) 309-9645 to schedule a consultation with a Seattle parentage attorney and paternity lawyer who’ll fight for your best interests.