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Will establishing paternity help you obtain visitation rights?

As a biological parent, it’s your right to seek visitation regardless of whether you were married to your child’s other parent. Courts in Washington often determine that having access to both parents is advantageous to a child. However, unmarried fathers ought to establish paternity before asserting visitation rights.

The basics

Establishing paternity is a process used by courts in determining the biological father of the child. Until then, the father has no role in the child’s life. Thus, they should not pay for child support, enjoy custody or have visitation rights. During divorce, either parent may request the court to establish paternity, or the court can decide on its own.

Acknowledging paternity

A child born when the parents aren’t married lacks the legal father. Thus, to establish paternity, the biological father must acknowledge paternity through signing an affidavit. Additionally, both parents can come to a consensus on paternity.

Presumed father

On the other hand, if the parents were married, the husband is presumed to be the child’s biological father. In most states, this presumption is not valid if the parents were not married during conception. Thus, the man can file a legal request to disprove paternity.

Rebutting presumed paternity is often an urgent matter, so the presumed father should consult an attorney if he fears that the presumption is wrong. Failure to address this concern could result in the father paying support for a child who’s not biologically his.

Equitable parent

Every state has different laws on who gains visitation rights. However, in most states, a spouse who’s not the biological or adoptive parent can gain visitation rights as mandated by equitable parent laws. It’s a concept mostly used when the spouse and the child have an unbreakable relationship. Such a parent may also pay child support.

Paternity cases are complex because the court must establish paternity before granting visitation rights. Thus, it’s advisable that you consult an attorney to help you navigate the court system if you want to gain visitation rights.