In a traditional marriage, Washington law presumes the married spouses are the parents of a child. Unmarried parents are treated differently. Paternity proceedings are initiated between non-married people to identify the child's "legal parents," and formally establish the legal rights of a father as co-parent.
Paternity is generally established through a court order establishing parentage. The court order can be obtained either by showing proof of a Paternity Affidavit (also called "Acknowledgement of Paternity") filed with the state Department of Health or via biological testing of the parents and child. The establishment of paternity enables the father or mother to file an action for custody or a "Petition for Parenting Plan/Residential Schedule." Either parent can also initiate an action to establish child support just as in dissolution cases involving married parents. The Division of Child Support can also order child support payments through their administrative process.
The person named as the father on a paternity order has equal parenting rights regarding custody and visitation with the child. Both parents also share the obligation to provide financial support for the support and care of their child.
HOW I CAN HELP.
This is one of the most intense areas of family law. Paternity cases are time-sensitive and complicated. Parenting is a fundamental right. What could be more important to a child than knowing who their father is? Establishing paternity allows a child to know their extended family, including critical genetic and health history. It also establishes a child's right to social security, life and insurance and veteran's benefits, trust benefits and inheritance.
Handling a paternity situation properly is essential for both the child and their extended family. I have experience in handling complicated paternity and child expense disputes in mediation and the courtroom. I have particularized experience surrounding issues of shared parenting and child alienation.