Having a child outside of marriage is relatively common these days, but it can post some complications for the fathers involved. Establishing yourself legally as the child’s father will be important if you hope to play a role in the life of your child and fulfill your paternal responsibilities. 

There are a number of ways in which you can establish paternity in order to assert your rights and be part of your child’s life.

Ask the mother to add you to the birth certificate

If your child has not yet been born, you may still be able to have a rational discussion about the circumstances with the mother of your child and reach an agreement where she will include you on your child’s birth certificate. 

Doing so will make it easier for you to assert rights like visitation or shared custody and will help her by giving her the option of seeking child support from you. If your child is already born, it’s possible that their mother may agree to execute a Paternity Acknowledgment form that will update your child’s records to add your name as the father.

What can you do if the mother doesn’t want to acknowledge you?

There are circumstances, such as a difficult break-up, where the mother of your child may refuse to acknowledge your paternity. In that difficult situation, you can ask the Washington family courts to intervene. 

Provided that you have a credible reason to believe you are the biological parent of the child in question, the courts may help you prove your paternity by ordering the mother to prevent the child from paternity testing. Genetic paternity tests have high rates of success and serve as critical pieces of evidence if you want to establish your paternity through the courts. 

Once you’ve shown that you are the father, you can move forward with your efforts to seek shared custody or visitation.