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How to establish paternity for child support purposes

In order for a child support order in Washington to be made, the biological father of the child must be identified. Of course, if a couple is married before the child was born, it will be presumed that the husband is the biological father of the child for legal purposes. Similarly, if the child's mother was in a registered domestic partnership while pregnant, that will also constitute a presumption of parentage. However, how can paternity be established if the child's parents are not married or in a domestic partnership?

One way to establish paternity is through a Paternity Acknowledgment. This is a form that the man signs. Once signed, notarized and filed, the man is then deemed to be the child's father for legal purposes, including paying child support if his relationship with the child's mother ends. However, due to its legally binding nature, the Paternity Acknowledgment form should only be signed if both the man and the child's mother are certain that he is the child's biological father.

Another way to establish paternity is through a court order. The court may require that the child, mother and alleged father undergo genetic testing to determine if the man is the child's biological father. This method for establishing paternity may be best if identity of the child's biological father is in question, or if for one reason or another, either the child's mother or the alleged father do not want to sign a Paternity Acknowledgement.

Once paternity is established, if the child's parents are no longer in a relationship with one another, the custodial parent can seek child support from the noncustodial parent in order to meet the children's needs. Moreover, the child's biological parent may be able to seek visitation with his child if he so chooses. Those in Gig Harbor who have questions about establishing paternity for either of these reasons may want to consult with a family law attorney.

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