If you are trying to get custody of your child (or children), being their biological father certainly helps your case. Paternity itself is a legal term that usually refers to the fact that you are the child’s biological father. It is an important determination in a Washington State custody case and carries with it an obligation for you to carry some of the legal and financial burdens in your child’s life. It is the legal right of the mother to ask for this help, and the courts will usually enforce it.

As a father, you also have rights, depending on what a paternity test reveals. Often a defense from a child custody lawyer is made by showing that you are not the biological father, and therefore, you don’t bear any further financial or emotional responsibility.

If you’re suing for custody or visitation rights, however, it is in your best interest to take a paternity test to validate that you are the child’s biological father. Some states will not even hear the case, if a paternity test has not validated who the biological father is.

Being legally established as the biological father, via a paternity test, immediately gives you certain rights, as well as obligations. This helps protect both the father and the mother of the children.

In child custody court, a paternity test will establish you as the father, therefore placing you under obligation for the child but also providing you with certain rights, such as visitation or custody.In a Washington State custody case involving infidelity, a paternity test also provides you certain rights. If the child isn’t biologically yours, then you have no legal obligation to the child but certainly may wish to be of help and have visitation or custody rights.  If a paternity test shows that you are not the biological father, you can still opt to legally adopt the child and assist with fatherly duties, as well as receiving custody or visitation rights.

Simply put, a positive paternity test means you’re entitled to custodial and parental rights.
You have the right to custody, visitation, and having a future say in raising the child. This means you still hold the right to be there for your child, care for his or her livelihood, and offer emotional and financial support. If the mother does not want you to have custody or visitation, the positive test will help you maintain these rights in court.

These custody cases are legally complex, and only with the advice of a Tri-Cities family law and child custody attorney, will you know how to navigate all the options legally open to you. This is true whether you are the child’s father, biologically or not.

If We Were Never Married, Can Establishing Paternity Still Help Me Get Child Custody or Visitation Rights?

In a relationship where marriage hasn’t been involved, you don’t need a legal divorce to end the relationship. Many times, though, the parenting rights must be negotiated because keeping your child in your life still may be of major importance. If an unmarried couple separates in Washington State, the legal process still may mirror all the legal aspects involved in a custody case that traditionally is associated with divorce proceedings.

Certainly, in Washington State, parents’ rights are not only for those who have been married. Unmarried parents who separate before or after the birth of a child are entitled to the same legal opportunities and responsibilities regarding child custody, visitation, and child support. It is extremely important to note that Washington States family law courts almost always will do what’s best for the health (mental physical, and emotional), future, and financial stability of the child. This is true whether you were married parents, or not.  The well-being of the child is the court’s main concern.

Discussing your case and all its specific details with your Tri-Cities child custody lawyer will allow him or her to successfully fight for you to reach a favorable resolution in your child custody or visitation case. This can be true whether you’re married or not and whatever the paternity test may disclose. If your wish as a parent is to have the best for your child, then your family lawyer will help you to provide it.

Will a Paternity Test Protect my Parental Rights, and How Can I Do So?

In Washington State, the courts are seeing more and more cases in which couples have children but who were never actually married. If this is the case in your relationship, then a paternity test is crucial to receiving and maintaining your rights in a custody or visitation case. Even if you were married, it will help to cement the fact that you are, in fact, the child’s father. As explained previously, historically the courts have leaned towards the mother for custody of any children involved. This is currently not the case. Whatever is better for the well-being of the child, is the guiding beacon that the courts follow.

In a traditional divorce proceeding for married couples, things such as financial support, visitation, custody, etc. are spelled out, and the courts can enforce the final decree.

In a case where you were never legally married, or if the paternity case shows that you are not the biological father, it still may be in the child’s best interests to see you, or possibly live with you. Depending on his or her age, the child may also have strong feelings (and specific reasons) for wanting you to have custody.

When this occurs, you and your Tri-Cities family lawyer will develop a parenting plan (a form of custody agreement), that you and the mother will agree to. This parenting plan will dictate the terms of custody, visitation, etc., and can be fully enforced by the court. Your child custody lawyer will help you, no matter what the circumstance, to ensure that you and your child’s future are secure.