At Genesis Law Firm, we deliver exceptional representation in parentage actions, and we do so at affordable hourly rates.
What Is a Parentage Action?
Parentage actions are sometimes called paternity cases, though they can establish maternity as well as paternity. These types of actions perform three functions: 1) establish who the legal parents of a child are or are not, 2) enter a residential schedule or parenting plan between the legal parents, and 3) award child support. Normally a party files a paternity action for one of the following reasons:
- To gain child support from a parent or alleged parent who has been unwilling to financially support his or her child.
- To establish a parenting plan or residential schedule where the parents do not agree on custody, visitation, or other parenting issues.
- To “disestablish” parentage when parentage is otherwise legally presumed, such as when a child is born within 300 days of a divorce. Of note, failure to quickly disestablish presumed paternity can lead to an unrebuttable presumption of paternity. If you think you might be improperly presumed to be a child’s parent, speak with an attorney immediately.
Who Can File a Parentage Action?
Of course, a parent or alleged parent may file a parentage action. Proceedings of this nature may also be initiated by the child, someone standing in for child (such as guardian or personal representative), or by the state government. The state is often the one to file. If the state files, it is typically because the child is receiving public assistance and the alleged parent is not supporting the child financially.
A useful tip: If the action is filed by someone other than the child, parent, or alleged parent, the court can elect not to determine parentage if the determination would not be in the child’s best interest.
What Are the Main Laws Governing These Types of Matters?
Washington has adopted the Uniform Parentage Act, codified in Washington under Chapter 26.26 RCW. Parentage can also be determined in a divorce or a legal separation proceeding (Chapter 26.09 RCW), as well as in certain juvenile court proceedings.
When Can a Parentage Action be Filed?
The window for commencing a parentage action is remarkably broad. A party can initiate a parentage action even before the child’s birth, or even after the alleged parent’s death so long as the estate has not been settled. In fact, the applicable statute states a parentage action may be filed “at any time.” The following are the exceptions:
- When the child has passed away.
- When a presumed parent delays in disestablishing paternity.
- When equitable principles such as laches or estoppel would make it unfair to determine parentage after an extended passage of time.
Contact Genesis for a parentage attorney located in the Everett City Center, just blocks from the Snohomish County Courthouse.