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The process of establishing parentage is important for married couples, divorced couples, domestic partners, and expectant expectant mothers to understand, as this process legally states who is (and isn’t) considered a parent to a child. 

To establish parentage means to define the legal relationship and rights between a parent and child. 

There are three ways that parentage can be established in Washington State. 

How Parentage is Established in Washington State. 

1. Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage

A voluntary acknowledgement of parentage form is given to the women who gave birth and the biological or presumed father of the child at the hospital, birthing center, or by a midwife after the child is born. 

This document must state 

  • Whether or not the child has any presumed parentage besides the individual looking to establish parentage

The Acknowledgement section of the document must state any presumed parents, as well as an understanding that 

  • Signing a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Parentage is legally equivalent to a court ordered establishment of parentage and that
  • Said document can only be challenged for the first four years of life

This document must be signed, notarized, and filed within 5 days of the birth. After 5 days, filing fees will be applied. 

2. Court Order

Court ordered establishments of parentage are usually obtained when there are disagreements or refusals to sign an Acknowledgement of Parentage form, when the birth parent decides they want to add or remove a parent on the birth certificate, or when there are dispute software parentage. 

In order to file a court order to establish parentage The Department of Health requires individuals to provide

  • The legal full name of the child as written on the birth certificate
  • Date of birth of the child
  • Full name of birth parent as written on birth certificate 
  • Full name, date of birth, and place of birth of person being added to birth certificate 

3. By court action in order to establish de fact parentage 

Defacto parentage can be established even if you have no biological relation to a child. 

In order to establish defect parentage, you must be able to prove that you have had a parent-child relationship with the child, meeting their basic needs for clothing, food, shelter, medical care, etc. while also providing for their personal needs with love and care. 

RCW 26.26A.440 details the steps necessary in order to establish defacto parentage. 

Why Establish Parentage

There are multiple reasons to establish parentage. 

Establishing parentage entails obtaining a court order or officially signing a declaration that declares who a child’s legal parents are. 

Establishing parentage allows you a legal relationship between parent and child. 

This process also allows you to establish who isn’t a parent. 

For example, if your partner is not the biological parent of a child, you may legally document this. 

Having parentage established is also important for setting child support and determining children’s rights to inherent in the case of divorce or death. 

The details of establishing parentage vary from case to case. Contact one of our compassionate attorneys at Narrows Law Group to get started today. 

These resources can help you learn more about the importance and process of establishing parentage. 

https://www.dshs.wa.gov/esa/division-child-support/establishing-parentage
https://doh.wa.gov/licenses-permits-and-certificates/vital-records/parentage/court-ordered-parentage