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Paternity / Parentage

Need a parenting plan, but you aren’t listed as the father and/or the “husband” is not the father?  Did you sign a paternity acknowledgment and discover you are not the father? There are several ways a parent-child relationship is legally established or disestablished (RCW 26.26).  If you need to correct paternity/parentage or establish paternity, we can help. Below are a few general topics regarding paternity.

Withdrawal of Paternity Acknowledgment

A person may rescind/withdraw a paternity acknowledgment or denial of paternity within 60 days after the effective date of acknowledgment or denial, or before the signatory’s 19th birthday (if the father is a minor at the time of acknowledgment/denial).

There are some situations in which a person can challenge paternity after the deadline referenced above based on fraud, duress or material mistake of fact and it is within four years from being filed with state registrar of vital statistics.

There are many scenarios where this can happen. Do not hesitate to contact our office for a consultation with one of our lawyers to find out more information.

Establishing Paternity

If the father is not listed on the child’s birth certificate or paternity affidavit, you must first establish paternity before a parent can request a parenting plan. In some cases, the parties agree on paternity and the parentage documents can be entered in order for the parties to move forward with a parenting plan and child support. When there is not an agreement, the Court will decide paternity at trial. Prior to trial, the Court almost always requires a Guardian ad Litem to investigate paternity. The Court may also order DNA testing.

This process will correct the child’s birth certificate on file with the Washington State Registrar of Vital Statistics, to include any name changes for the minor child.

Disestablishing Paternity

In some situations, the Court requires the parties to disestablish the “presumed parent” of a child before you can legally divorce. This can occur if a child was either born during a marriage, or within 300 days of a marriage and the husband is not the biological father.  By law, the husband is considered a “presumed parent.” In this situation, the Court will require you to disestablish paternity before finalizing your divorce.

There are also situations where the mother wants to remain married, but a parenting plan needs to be entered between the mother and biological father, whom is not the husband. The husband can be disestablished as the presumed parent in order for the biological parents to establish a parenting plan, child support and correct the birth certificate.

On 10/16/2017, I was served (in St. Petersburg, Florida) with a Summons, as well as a Petition to Change a Parenting Plan. Despite being a Florida resident (and having already fought a 2 year Divorce and Child Custody battle in the State of Florida), my ex-wife (who is now living…