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CHALLENGING PATERNITY IN WASHINGTON

Filing a suit to challenge a child's paternity is similar to one establishing it. Either parent may initiate the suit, but the court requires valid grounds for the suit. If the couple was married at the time of the child's birth, the discovery that the man is sterile or that the woman was unfaithful are grounds for challenging it. The only other grounds for challenging paternity include tainted, tampered or fraudulent lab results.

After either party files the complaint challenging paternity, the court may order DNA tests for the father and child. It will also seek additional evidence to determine the child's actual father, which could include voluntary acknowledgement by the actual father. At the end of the hearings, the court will name the father in an order, and the parties must meet to establish custody and child support arrangements.

The court may consider how long the child has believed that the man was his or her father before accepting the case. In some situations, the process may be more difficult because of the emotional and psychological effects that it could have on the child. Establishing true paternity can, however, be important to establish a proper family medical history for the child.

In any paternity case, the father may want an attorney to help with filing the paperwork and presenting the case in court. An attorney may also be helpful in negotiating custody and child support arrangements for the father after the court establishes paternity. Every situation is unique, so an attorney's advice may be helpful before filing the suit to determine the proper basis.

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