There are two main ways under Washington law to legally establish paternity for a child who is born outside of a marriage. A father can sign a paternity acknowledgment form, which establishes him as the child’s legal father. Alternatively, a court can issue an order that establishes a man as the legal father of the child. There are advantages to each method of establishing paternity, depending on your situation.

A Paternity Acknowledgment is a legal form that a man can sign in order to establish himself as the legal father of a child. After the man signs the form, has it notarized, and files it with the Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics, he becomes the legal father of the child. Signing a Paternity Acknowledgment is a good choice if a man is certain that he is the biological father of a child. It is a quick, inexpensive, and simple way to establish paternity. However, if either the man or the woman is not completely certain that the man is the child’s biological father, then they should NOT sign the paternity acknowledgment.

If a man is not certain that he is the biological father of a child, he should not sign a Paternity Acknowledgment, which is an admission of legal paternity. Instead, he should pursue paternity establishment through the court system. The court can order the man, child, and the child’s mother to undergo genetic testing, which will definitively determine if the man is the child’s biological father. Assuming that the test shows that the man is the biological father of the child, then the court will issue an order that legally establishes paternity for the child.

Paternity establishment cases can be very complex, so you will need to consult a Washington paternity attorney about your rights and obligations under Washington law. With our legal knowledge of Washington family law, we can help you make the decisions in your case that will best benefit you and your family in your paternity case or in any other family law matter. We are here to answer your questions, ease your mind, and help guide you through what is likely to be a difficult proceeding. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we handle family law cases that involve all types of issues, including paternity, divorce, child custody, child support, property division, and spousal support. Contact our office today and see how we can assist you with your Washington paternity or family law case.