12055 15th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98125

(206) 367-1065


When married couples have a child, either through sexual intercourse or using assisted reproduction technology, Washington State law almost always recognizes both spouses as legal parents of the child. However, when unmarried couples have a child it is often necessary to take legal steps to establish that both spouses are parents of the child.

Attorney for Parentage in Washington

If you need to establish parentage of a child you should contact Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen, so you can ensure the necessary steps are taken. Joyce Schwensen is an experienced family law attorney who is dedicated to helping the people of Washington.

Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen represent clients in communities across Washington including Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, King County and Snohomish County. Call Joyce Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065 or submit your information on the online form.

Overview of Parentage in Washington

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How to Establish Parentage

In the state of Washington, parentage can be established in several ways. Some of them are obvious, such as a woman giving birth to a child (unless she is acting as a surrogate), or a child being adopted. Also, the spouse of a woman who gives birth is presumed to be a parent of the child, although that presumption can sometimes be rebutted. But in other circumstances parentage needs to be established by the adults involved taking certain legal steps. Sometimes these steps are taken voluntarily, but sometimes one of the adults asserting parentage must act without the other adult’s cooperation. 


  • In cases of children conceived through sexual intercourse. To voluntarily establish the parentage of a child conceived through sexual intercourse, both parents may sign an Acknowledgment of Parentage form and file it with the Washington State Department of Health. This form may be completed at the hospital when the child is born. The parents must sign the form in front of a notary. Once the form is notarized, it must be filed or sent to the Washington State Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics. After the form is submitted correctly, the father’s name will be included on the child’s birth certificate and have legal parentage of the child.
  • In some cases where children are born using assisted reproduction technology, additional documentation is needed to establish parentage of the child. A comprehensive Assisted Reproduction Agreement may be needed to establish parentage of the child, and it may be required by medical fertility professionals. This type of agreement will set out the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved, and should be signed prior to starting assisted reproduction procedures.

Involuntarily: Parentage can be established involuntarily by an order from a Washington court, or by the spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child failing to rebut the presumption of parentage in a timely manner.


      • A law suit to establish parentage of a child is called an “Adjudication of Parentage”, and it can be brought by a child’s mother, an individual claiming to be the child’s father, the child him or herself, another parent of the child, the Washington State Division of Child Support Enforcement, or a licensed Washington State adoption agency. In an Adjudication of Parentage the alleged parents and the child may be ordered by the court to submit to genetic testing. Based on the DNA test the court may enter a court order establishing parentage of the child. However, genetic testing cannot be used in Washington to establish the parentage of a sperm or egg donor or to challenge the parentage of an individual who is a parent under a valid Assisted Reproduction Agreement or Surrogacy Agreement.
      • Another type of Adjudication of Parentage can be brought to establish de facto parentage. De facto parentage grants all of the legal rights of parentage to someone has raised a child as their own but who is not a biological parent of the child, and is not able to establish parentage of the child by any other legal manner, such as adoption or voluntary agreement with the child’s legal parent. To be given the status of de facto parent by a court a person must prove all of the following:
        • That they resided with the child as a regular member of the child's household for a significant period, and engaged in consistent caretaking of the child;
        • That they individual undertook full and permanent responsibilities of a parent of the child without expectation of financial compensation;
        • That they held out the child as their own child;
        • That they established a bonded and dependent relationship with the child which is parental in nature;
        • That Another parent of the child fostered or supported the bonded and dependent relationship; and
        • That continuing the relationship is in the best interest of the child.

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Benefits of Parentage

There are benefits for both parents and the child when parentage is established.

Establishing Parentage allows children to:

      • Have a relationship with both parents
      • Have access to both parents’ benefits such as life insurance, Social Security, Veterans benefits and inheritance
      • Learn about family history, including medical and genetic history where applicable

Establishing Parentage helps parents:

      • Share the joys and responsibilities of parenthood
      • Establish a bond with their child
      • Contribute to their child’s sense of security and permanency
      • Provide their child with a sense of belonging

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Additional Parentage Resources in Washington

Parentage FAQ- Visit the Washington State Department of Health for an FAQ column about parentage issues. https://www.doh.wa.gov/LicensesPermitsandCertificates/BirthDeathMarriageandDivorce/Paternity/PaternityFAQ Some of the questions include how to file an Acknowledgment of Parentage if the child is over 18, and how to add a parent’s name to a child’s birth certificate. The Washington State Department of Health is a state department that strives to protect and improve the health of people in Washington.

Revised Code of Washington Chapter 26A.26 Uniform Parentage Act- Visit the webpage of the Washington State Legislature to view the Uniform Parentage Act. http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=26.26A This is a comprehensive Washington statute addressing a wide range of parentage issues.

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Family Lawyer for Parentage in Seattle, Washington

If you need to establishing parentage of a child, you should contact Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen. Joyce Schwensen will strive to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. 

Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen represent clients across Washington including Seattle, Bellevue, Everett, King County and Snohomish County. Call Joyce Schwensen today at (206) 367-1065 or submit your information in the online form.

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