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In Washington, unmarried parents can sign a Paternity Acknowledgement to show the courts the identity of the biological father. If the mother was married or in a recognized relationship and a different person is acknowledging paternity, the presumed person will need to sign a Denial of Paternity as they are thought to be the biological father of the child. If both documents are not filed with the Department of Health, the new paternity will not be valid.

A Paternity Acknowledgment can be signed at a hospital, clinic or under the eye of a midwife. The paperwork should then be notarized and submitted to DOH. However, the form can be filed through the county or through a Division of Child Support office. The parents will need to pay the related fee and have the form notarized before they return it to DOH. Even minors can follow this procedure; they will be expected to understand the form just as legal adults are.

Once the form is signed, both parties will receive written information about their rights and responsibilities. The recipients need to understand what the acknowledgement entails and can call a toll-free number to listen to a recording. However, the state gives parents a limited time to change their mind. For adults, this time frame is 60 days while minors have until their 19th birthday to request a rescission. Once the court approves the rescission, the man's name is taken off the birth certificate. A rescission can also be approved for limited reasons for as long as four years after it is filed with DOH.

Proving paternity is a critical aspect in awarding someone visitation rights or if they are seeking child support. A family lawyer might help a parent prove paternity so that they can seek rights to a child or child support.