How to Establish Paternity in Washington State

  • How do I establish paternity of my child in Washington State?parent child hands

 There are two ways of establishing paternity. The first way is for the parents to sign an Affidavit of Paternity. About half of the time, parents sign an Affidavit of Paternity. This is a voluntary process. Once both parents sign the affidavit and it is notarized, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) may enter the father’s name on the birth certificate. The second way is for a parent to file a Petition to Establish Paternity with the court. This is an involuntary process because paternity is established by order of the court.

  • What if I am unsure or believe that the child is not mine?

You should obtain a genetic test to determine with scientific certainty that you are the father of the child. It is customary in a paternity case for the Court to order genetic testing. The cost is less than $200. If you are the presumed father or the mother of the child, then you must bring a court proceeding no later than two years after the birth of the chilIf there is no presumed or acknowledged father, then a proceeding to adjudicate the parentage of a child may be commenced at any time during the life of the child, even after the child becomes an adult.

  • What if I find out after paternity is established that I am not actually the father?

If you later find out that you are not the father, then you must act quickly to rescind paternity. If you filed an affidavit of paternity, you may generally rescind your signature by initiating a court action within no more than 60 days after the paternity affidavit is filed at DOH. If you wait past 60 days, then you must prove specific grounds to rescind the order.

  • What rights and responsibilities are created by the established of paternity?

Establishing paternity gives makes it possible for the child to enjoy a sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents. A mother and an established father have equal rights of having residential time with their child. The parent whom the child does not live primarily with will also have an obligation to share in the financial support of the child. Legally establishing paternity helps a child become eligible to receive certain benefits, such as social security, health insurance, and inheritance rights.