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Lakewood Paternity or Parentage Cases for Unmarried Couples

Lakewood Legal Support For Your Paternity Case

In Lakewood, our attorneys offer comprehensive guidance for paternity cases, extending well beyond mere legal representation. We understand the significance of establishing paternity, not just for legal matters, but for the emotional closure and clarity it can provide. Our Lakewood legal team is adept at navigating the complexities of paternity laws, ensuring the Courts handle the process with sensitivity and respect for all parties involved. With our support, you're gaining a legal ally and a dedicated advocate committed to facilitating a resolution that brings peace of mind. 

How Is Paternity Established In Lakewood?

In Lakewood, Washington, courts determine paternity through various legal means. If you need to establish paternity, here are your options:

  • Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP): Unmarried parents have the option to establish paternity voluntarily through the signing of a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form, which both the mother and the assumed father must sign in the presence of a witness. This document is commonly available at the hospital upon the child's birth or can be acquired subsequently from either the Washington State Department of Health or the Division of Child Support.
  • Genetic Testing: If paternity is contested or there is uncertainty about the biological father, the mother or the alleged father can petition the court for genetic testing.The process typically involves collecting DNA samples from the child, the mother, and the alleged father. Because genetic samples are analyzed by labs, the results can establish or exclude paternity with high accuracy.
  • Court Order: If paternity cannot be established voluntarily or through genetic testing, either parent can petition the court to establish paternity. The Pierce County Court may order genetic testing if necessary and will decide based on the evidence presented.
  • Establishment of Parentage: Once paternity is established, the court may issue an order to establish parentage, confirming the legal relationship between the father. The order may include custody, visitation, and child support provisions.
  • Updating Birth Certificate: The Courts can add the father to the child's birth certificate if paternity is established or acknowledged after birth. The Washington State Department of Health facilitates the process.

Seeking legal assistance ensures the Pierce County Courts conduct the paternity process correctly and in the child's best interests.

How To Navigate Paternity Disputes In Pierce County

Navigating paternity disputes in Pierce County, Washington involves understanding the legal processes available and seeking appropriate legal assistance. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to proceed:

  1. Consult With an Attorney: If you're involved in a paternity dispute, seeking legal advice from a family law attorney specializing in paternity cases is crucial, as they are knowledgeable of your rights, obligations, and legal options.
  2. Consider Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP): If both parents agree on paternity, they can voluntarily sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAP) form. This form is typically available at the hospital when the child is born or can be obtained later from the Washington State Department of Health or the Division of Child Support.
  3. Submit For Genetic Testing: To establish or refute paternity, either parent can petition the court for genetic testing, as it can provide conclusive evidence of paternity. The process involves collecting DNA samples from the child, the mother, and the alleged father.
  4. Attend Court Proceedings: If paternity cannot be established voluntarily or through genetic testing, either parent can file a paternity action in Pierce County Superior Court. The court will hold hearings to determine paternity based on the evidence presented.

If the court determines paternity based on the evidence presented, it will issue a court order confirming the legal relationship between the father and the child. Both parents must comply with the court order once paternity has been established. If circumstances change or one parent fails to comply with the order, modifications or enforcement actions may be necessary.

Why You Need An Attorney When Paternity Is In Dispute

Having a Lakewood attorney by your side is crucial whenever paternity is disputed, especially in cases where the paternity claim is alleged to be false. Here are several reasons why legal representation is so important in these situations:

  • Utilize Legal Knowledge: Family law matters, such as paternity disputes, often entail complex legal processes. With a seasoned attorney, you can navigate these procedures adeptly, safeguarding your rights at every step.
  • Clarify Legal Standing: Legal professionals can elucidate your rights and responsibilities regarding paternity, custody, visitation, and child support. By providing deep legal insights into the potential consequences of different actions, attorneys empower you to make decisions with clarity and confidence.
  • Gather the Right Evidence: In cases where paternity is disputed, gathering evidence such as DNA testing results, witness testimony, and documentation to strengthen your case is crucial. This is when the assistance of an attorney comes in.
  • Have Representation in Court: Legal representation is essential if the paternity dispute escalates to court proceedings. A Lakewood attorney can advocate for your interests in court, present evidence on your behalf, and argue your case persuasively before the judge.
  • Get Protection Against False Accusations: If you've been falsely accused of paternity, an attorney can help defend your rights and reputation. They can challenge the accuracy of the allegations, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence to refute the paternity claim.
  • Ensuring Legal Compliance: Paternity disputes involve specific legal procedures and deadlines. A Lakewood paternity attorney can ensure you complete and submit all legal paperwork on time, avoiding potential legal pitfalls.
  • Get Emotional Support: It can be emotionally challenging to deal with a paternity dispute, especially one involving false accusations. A Lakewood attorney who specializes in paternity provides emotional support and guidance, helping you navigate the stress and uncertainty of the situation.

Having the support of an attorney when paternity is in dispute is essential for protecting your rights, navigating the legal process effectively, and achieving the best possible outcome, particularly when faced with false paternity accusations.

What Are My Washington Legal Rights And Obligations If I Am The Father?

Once the Courts establish paternity, whether voluntarily acknowledged or determined through legal means such as DNA testing or court proceedings, several obligations may come into play, particularly for unmarried couples in Washington:

  1. Child Support: One of the primary obligations is to provide financial support for the child and meet the child's basic needs. In Washington, child support obligations are typically determined based on state guidelines that consider both parents' income and the child's needs.
  2. Healthcare Coverage: The parent determined to be the legal father may be required to provide health insurance coverage for the child, if available through their employer or other means. Alternatively, they may be obligated to contribute to the child's medical expenses.
  3. Parenting Time/Visitation: In Washington state, legal fathers typically have the right to maintain a relationship with their children through parenting plans, which must prioritize the child's best interests. These plans outline visitation schedules and parenting time.
  4. Decision-Making Authority: The legal father may possess the right to partake in significant decisions regarding the child's upbringing, encompassing education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Courts may delineate these within the parenting plan or custody order.
  5. Emotional and Psychological Support: Beyond financial support, parents must also provide emotional and psychological support to their children. This could be in the form of nurturing and maintaining a healthy parent-child relationship, being involved in the child's life, and providing love and guidance.

It's important to note that these obligations are not only legal requirements but also moral responsibilities aimed at ensuring the child’s well-being and best interests. Failure to fulfill these obligations can have legal consequences and may result in enforcement actions by the court, such as wage garnishment for child support or modification of custody arrangements.

How Lakewood Attorneys Support Unmarried Couples During Parentage Disputes

Choosing the right attorney is pivotal for unmarried couples in Lakewood facing paternity or parentage cases. Our law firm specializes in navigating these sensitive situations with both legal acumen and compassionate understanding. We recognize the unique challenges and emotional dynamics involved in establishing parentage. Our attorneys are not just experts in the legal process; they're advocates for your rights and the well-being of your family.

Opting for our team means gaining access to unparalleled paternity law expertise in Pierce County and a supportive approach that respects your personal journey. We're committed to providing clear, straightforward advice and robust representation to ensure the legal recognition of your parental rights.

Why choose us? Our team of experienced paternity lawyers in Lakewood is deeply committed to advocating for your rights and interests, ensuring that every aspect of your case is handled with care and expertise. We understand the importance of establishing paternity and securing your family's future, offering comprehensive legal support tailored to your unique situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us guide you through the complexities of the paternity process in Lakewood.

Client Reviews
Laurie has worked on my very challenging and contentious divorce and I could not have asked for a better family law attorney. She was able to handle all of the twists and turns of my case with ease. I highly recommend Laurie to anyone looking for an excellent, ethical and hard working counselor. Chandler
Laurie is an incredible divorce lawyer! She did an amazing job with my divorce, and it was a real dog fight the whole way. She is a true fighter. And you can tell that she really cares about her family law clients and the results that she achieves for them. John
My lawyer guided me through a very challenging time in my life when I was going through my divorce. She worked hard and explained every step of the way what was going on so I could understand the process. I was very happy with her work. Barbel