Articles Tagged with paternity

When parents are unmarried at the time a child is born (or within 300 days of a dissolution), the marital presumption does not apply. In this circumstance, more has to be done to establish the child’s paternity. It is necessary to establish the child’s paternity for purposes of entering an order of child support and/or a parenting plan or residential schedule for the child.

In Washington, there are two separate ways for unmarried, non-adoptive parents to establish paternity. One option is court action, and the other is the filing of a paternity acknowledgement with the Department of Health.

If there is not agreement as to the paternity of the child, or if the other parent does not want paternity established, it will probably be necessary to file a court action. To start a court action, either parent may petition the court with a parentage action.

This blog previously discussed the uncomfortable reality for Kim Kardashian that her ex-husband will be the presumed father of her child. Kim is not the only one facing this situation, and we thought this might be a nice time to go through what can be done in Washington (a state with a marital presumption like California) when a woman’s husband is not the father of her child. As stated in the first blog article regarding the topic, there is a marital presumption in Washington that presumes a child born during a marriage, or within 300 days of its dissolution, is the husband’s child. While Kim’s sixty-two day marriage may be uncommon, this situation is more common than you might think. Sometimes couples end their marriage emotionally, socially, financially, and physically without doing so legally. The legal spouses move on and have other relationships, some of which might result in pregnancy. In this instance, the husband (even if he has not had marital relations with his wife in years) is still presumed the father of the child.

When this happens, it is often of interest to one or all of the involved parties to have the husband’s paternity disestablished, and the biological father of the child established as the legal father. To have his paternity disestablished, the presumed father may seek an order disestablishing his paternity. He can do this as part of his petition for dissolution. Another option is for the presumed father (the husband), the mother (the wife), and the biological father (wife’s new partner) to sign an acknowledgment of paternity establishing the biological father as the legal father of the child. A third option is for one of the interested parties to file a parentage action, asking the court to establish the biological father’s paternity.

There are important legal obligations that come with being a child’s presumed legal parent. If you are in a situation like the one above, it is likely in your interest to discuss your options with a family law attorney. We would be happy to discuss your case and the possible outcomes of your situation.

While this blog generally focuses on family law issues facing typical Washington families, every so often a matter facing a not-so-typical family provides an opportunity to discuss a topic that may affect families reading this blog. As many have heard (It’s even being discussed on CNN:http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2013/01/03/in-cali-kris-humphries-is-the-presumed-dad-of-kim-k-s-baby/), Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are having a baby together. Meanwhile, Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries is not yet dissolved. According to the article linked above, California has a marital presumption that presumes a husband (or a recently divorced former-husband) of a pregnant woman is the father of that woman’s child. As such, under California law (again, according to this article), Kris Humphries will be the presumed father of Kanye West’s baby. In addition to being terrific tabloid fodder, this also gives this blog a chance to comment on the marital presumption in Washington.

In Washington RCW 26.25.116 provides a similar marital presumption: It states that in the context of marriage or domestic partnership, a person is presumed to be a parent if he or she is married or in a domiestic partnership with the mother or father of the child and the child is born during the marriage or domestic partnership or within 300 days of its dissolution. RCW 26.25.116(1)(a)&(b). It likely comes as a surprise to many outside the legal field that the presumption (i.e. the starting point for determination of paternity) is based on marital status not DNA. RCW 26.25.116(3) goes on to state that the presumption may be overcome only with the adjudication of paternity under RCW  26.26.500 through  26.26.630. Importantly, this may leave a person who is not the biological parent of a child responsible for providing support for the child until his or her paternity can be disproven. Also important to note, there are time limits on when this presumption may be disputed.

The main reason for this presumption is efficiency. In most cases, the spouse or domestic partner of a parent of a child born during (or soon after) a marriage is the child’s other parent. As such, the presumption allows the state to determine paternity of the child without the need for blood tests or litigation. That said, there are situations like the West/Kardashian pregnancy noted above, in which the results elude our notions of common sense and determinations of paternity are not easily made.