The decline in marriage is resulting in an increasing number of children being born out of wedlock. When the parents of children born out of wedlock separate, the court is faced with the exact same issues of child custody, visitation, and support handled during a divorce. DNA has made the proof of paternity easier and more certain, but the issues of custody, visitation and support still must be resolved by the court. The mother is in a powerful position to demand custody and attempt to limit visitation. All to often the mother will contend the father has no parental rights, but still has the financial responsibility. In other cases the father attempts to deny parentage and avoid financial responsibility.
The same child support formula is used to set support as in divorce, but can become more complicated if one or both of the child’s parents are married to someone else and have additional children born to that marriage.
In the real world, not all parents are married to each other. As a parent, you and the other parent of your child(ren) may not live together, but you still want to see your children. As an unmarried parent, you may even be surprised to discover you have a child you didn’t know about.
Parenting Doesn’t Require Marriage
The rights and responsibilities of parents start at the birth of their children, not with a marriage certificate. While unmarried parents do not file for divorce in court, issues such as child support, custody, and visitation still need to be determined through filing a motion for a Parenting Plan.
More and more men are seeking visitation with, or custody of, children fathered with former girlfriends. It is no longer a one-way street of the girlfriend demanding child support. Men often want parental rights that may need to be demanded and protected.
Often men facing a paternity case had no idea they had fathered a child. They suddenly receive a notice informing them a former girlfriend has filed a Parentage action in a Washington court, and wants child support. Family law in the state of Washington allows the man to mount an aggressive defense. If the mother was unmarried and no paternity affidavit was completed at the time of the child’s birth, then genetic testing is required to determine paternity. If you have received notice of a Parentage action either initiated by a former girlfriend or by the State of Washington Division of Child Support you should speak with a Washington family law attorney immediately to understand the process and have your legal rights and obligations explained to you. Years of child support is a huge financial burden.
If you are the mother of a child whose father is denying paternity, or refusing to provide support, you should seek the assistance of one of our attorneys experienced in paternity litigation.
Both parents have rights and have responsibilities. Our lawyers will work with you to establish those rights and enforce those responsibilities.
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