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In Washington State, if parents are not married, the issues of a Parenting Plan and Child Support may be decided by a parentage (paternity) action. Other issues in parentage matters include challenging paternity (strict timelines apply), which may include a request for genetic testing.

Paternity can be established with two different methods. The first method, is when both parents sign and notarize an Acknowledgement of Paternity form. This usually takes place at the hospital at the time of the child’s birth. After this takes place the Department of Heath will add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.

Acknowledgment of paternity.

The mother of a child and a man claiming to be the genetic father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with intent to establish the man's paternity.

The second method, is to file a Petition to Decide Paternity with the court. Petition to Decide Paternity can be filed by the mother, father, or often, by the State. Often when paternity is contested, a hearing will be held. If the alleged father does not appear in the litigation, a default order can be entered, establishing paternity. If the father appears and contends he is not the father, the court may order genetic testing. After genetic testing has occurred, the court may issue an order to either establish or deny paternity. Once paternity has been established issues such as a parenting plan (or residential schedule) and child support may be determined.

Order for genetic testing.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section and RCW 26.26.410 through 26.26.630, the court shall order the child and other designated individuals to submit to genetic testing if the request for testing is supported by the sworn statement of a party to the proceeding:

(a) Alleging paternity and stating facts establishing a reasonable probability of the requisite sexual contact between the individuals; or

(b) Denying paternity and stating facts establishing a possibility that sexual contact between the individuals, if any, did not result in the conception of the child.

(2) A support enforcement agency may order genetic testing only if there is no presumed or adjudicated parent and no acknowledged father.

(3) If a request for genetic testing of a child is made before birth, the court or support enforcement agency may not order in utero testing.

(4) If two or more persons are subject to court-ordered genetic testing, the testing may be ordered concurrently or sequentially.

(5) This section does not apply when the child was conceived through assisted reproduction.

Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law matters, including paternity and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at, to talk about your case.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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