Genetic testing occurs in the context of a parentage or paternity action, which is a formal legal proceeding in which a male can establish legal rights to a child as his or her biological father. Either the mother of the child or the alleged father begins a parentage action by filing a petition to establish parentage in court. The court will schedule the case for hearing. At that point, if either the mother or the alleged father is unsure about the alleged father’s paternity, the court will order the parties and the child to undergo genetic testing.

Once the parties receive the genetic test results, the case will either be dismissed because the man is not the child’s biological father, or it will be proceed to legally establish paternity in the alleged father. A paternity or parentage judgment also will contain other orders about the child, such as custody, visitation, and child support.

There are several circumstances in which you may not be able to get genetic testing for your child. For instance, suppose that your child was born during a marriage, and your husband helped to raise and support the child for ten years. Your husband is the presumed father of the child under Washington law. If your husband then files for divorce and requests a genetic test to prove parentage for the child, it is unlikely that the court will grant the request after so many years have elapsed since the child’s birth. Rather, the court likely would find that the presumed father is also the legal father, based on what is in the child’s best interests.

Although you can follow different paths in order to establish parentage, the circumstances of each case may differ substantially, as some cases are much more complex and involve more issues than others. No matter what issues arise in your parentage proceedings, however, we are here to help. The lawyers at Pacific Northwest Family Law have handled countless parentage cases throughout the years, as well as all other family law-related matters. Contact an experienced Washington parentage attorney today so that we can explain your rights and responsibilities about establishing parentage in the state of Washington.