Custody & Child Support
In Washington, a child has a legally enforceable right to the care and support of both parents, whether or not they were ever married. A parentage action, commonly known as a paternity action, is a means for establishing and enforcing parental rights and responsibilities.
I have represented many mothers and fathers in Washington parentage actions and can fully acquaint you with your rights and your options under state law. Contact me at my offices in Lynnwood to discuss how this body of law applies to the circumstances of your situation
Seeking Legally Binding Rights for Children
Once the paternity of a child is legally established, one or both parents can bring actions in court on the issues of child custody, visitation, and support. Even if you and your child's other parent have reached private agreements on these issues, you may want to go to court to make this agreement enforceable and avoid future misunderstandings.
A residential schedule is the term in Washington for a child custody and visitation plan in the context of a parentage action. As in the case of divorce or separation, the residential schedule must be designed to reflect and enhance the best interests of the child.
It is also possible to obtain an enforceable child support award in a parentage action. Again, the same standards apply as in the case of divorce; the income of both parents is used to determine the amount of child support owed.
Non-marital relationships between parents can go through the same ups and downs as marital relationships. Legally determining the paternity of a child and taking action to establish an enforceable residential schedule and child support obligation protects the child's rights and the role of each parent in caring for him or her. Contact me to get the assistance of an experienced paternity lawyer.
Acknowledging or Testing for Paternity
When a child is born to an unmarried woman in Washington, it is possible — and common — for paternity to be acknowledged and indicated on the birth certificate.
If that is not the case, the parents may voluntarily acknowledge who the father is during a parentage action, or the court may order a DNA test. Given the increased reliability of DNA testing, proving paternity is an issue that can usually be resolved without the kind of conflict that was sometimes the case in the past.