When married parents have a child, the husband is legally determined to be the father. When unmarried parents have a child, the legal identity of the child, or paternity, must be established through a legal process.
In Washington, there are two ways of establishing paternity:
- Voluntary acknowledgment of paternity: Can be obtained when both parents agree that the father is the biological parent
- Petition to establish parentage: A court process that determines paternity when the matter is contested
Why Establishing Paternity May Be Necessary
There are many benefits to establishing paternity, including:
- A child having a relationship with both parents
- Benefits received from the father, such as Social Security, veterans benefits and inheritance
- Knowledge of the genetic history and risk of certain diseases on the father’s side
For mothers who are raising a child alone, establishing paternity provides a source for child support payments. Many men also want to establish paternity to obtain custody and visitation rights and to take on all the rights and responsibilities of fatherhood.
Whatever your situation, the attorneys at Chvatal King Law can guide you through all aspects of the paternity process, including DNA testing and all necessary court proceedings.