Our Paternity Lawyers Explain Different Parent Statuses in Washington
The first thing you need to do in a paternity situation is look at the status of the parties. Seattle paternity lawyers can help clarify your current status. These statuses include:
- Acknowledged Parent
- Presumed Parent
- Alleged Parent
- Adjudicated Parent
It may well be that no action is needed, at least in terms of determining paternity. Washington does not concern itself with the “legitimacy” of a child. Washington law only seeks to determine who is a parent of a child, and therefore who should have the rights and responsibilities of a parent as to the child.
Forms of Paternity:
If legitimacy doesn’t matter, you may be wondering how a court determines parental rights for the father. Below are the 4 classifications used in Washington to determine a father’s rights.
Paternity is often established voluntarily when both parents agree that they are the biological parents of a child. An Acknowledged Father is established where a certificate of acknowledgement of paternity has been filed with the state. This is typically done at the hospital at the time of the birth of the child, and is signed by both parents. The certificate states the parents agreement that they are the parents and that there is no other presumed parent. The acknowledgement legally establishes that the couple are the parents of the child and both parents will be listed on the child’s birth certificate.
Once this has been done, no other action is needed to complete the establishment of paternity. However, if the couple is unmarried and is separated, or later separates, they will need to work out a parenting schedule and child support, just like a divorcing couple will do in the process of their divorce.
If you have signed an acknowledgement of paternity but feel you did so by mistake, there is a very limited period of time to rescind that acknowledgement, so make sure you talk to a Seattle paternity attorney right away!
Where an acknowledgement of paternity has not been done, a person may still be a Presumed Father (see RCW 26.26A.115). For instance, you are a Presumed Father if the child was born while you were married to the mother, or within 300 days after such marriage ended. You can also be the Presumed Father if you married after the birth of the child and:
- Filed an assertion with the state that you are the father of the child, or
- Are voluntarily named on the birth certificate, or
- Lived with the child during the first 4 years of her or his life and openly treated the child as yours.
A presumed father will be treated as the actual legal parent until such time as they are disestablished as the legal parent, usually by establishing another person as the actual legal parent. In other words, a presumed father can ask for custody or visitation, and can be required to pay child support.
If you are a Presumed Father or a birth mother but believe another person may be the actual father of the child, make sure you talk to Seattle paternity lawyers as soon as possible, as time limits to contest paternity may apply.
Alleged and Adjudicated Paternity
In other situations it may be necessary to have paternity legally determined by the court, which your Seattle paternity attorney can help you with. An Alleged Father is someone who is not an Acknowledged Father or a Presumed Father but is believed to possibly be the actual father. You might believe that you are the actual father and want to be named as the child’s actual father, or you might be a mother who wants parentage clarified.
If there is an Alleged Father then there needs to be a court determination as to who should be the Adjudicated Father (adjudicated just means that a court had made a ruling that the Alleged Father should be named as the actual father).
If the court determines a person to be the Adjudicated Father of a child, note that the court can also order up to 5 years of retroactive child support, or more in unusual circumstances. Make sure you discuss possible back child support with your Seattle paternity attorney.
Call Our Firm Today To Discuss Paternity Issues and Father’s Rights with Top Paternity Lawyers in Seattle
If you are seeking to establish or challenge paternity of a child, discuss your paternity issues with a Seattle paternity law firm. To schedule an appointment, we can be reached through the form on our website, or you can call us at 206-784-3049.