The biological relationship between a father and a child is legally established in what is known as a paternity action. By definition, the parents are unmarried, and filing a paternity action is the vehicle to develop a residential schedule and child support. Paternity cases can be initiated by: a mother, father, or even the State of Washington.

If the father is not listed on the child’s birth certificate or has not filed an affidavit of paternity, the court can order genetic testing to establish the biological bond. Once paternity is selected, a father can develop a relationship with his child and pursue a visitation schedule. It can also ensure that a child gets the financial stability they need through a formal order of child support.
If the father is already legally established, the court can skip directly to entering into a custody order and child support.

It is essential to realize that Washington still has presumptions as to “presumed” fathers. When a mother is married and has a child, it is imperative to “disestablish” parentage as quickly as possible to overcome the potentially permanent marriage presumption.