How do you contest paternity in Washington?

Understanding Paternity in Washington State

In Washington State, paternity, or the legal determination of fatherhood, carries significant implications for child support, custody, and visitation rights. There may be circumstances where an individual needs to contest paternity, whether due to new evidence or a realization that there has been a mistake. This article will guide you through the process of contesting paternity in Washington.

Grounds for Contesting Paternity

Paternity can be contested on several grounds in Washington, including but not limited to instances of mistaken identity, fraud, duress, or material mistake of fact. It is important to note that the state allows a specific time frame for challenging paternity, typically within four years of the child's birth unless the alleged father was under some disability or duress.

Legal Procedures for Contesting Paternity

To initiate the process of contesting paternity:

If paternity is successfully contested and disproved, it can lead to the termination of parental rights and responsibilities for the man who was previously presumed to be the father. It's crucial that this process is handled correctly as the consequences are significant.

Historical and Notable Cases

To illustrate the importance of establishing accurate paternity, we can refer to historical cases such as Michael H. v. Gerald D., a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case which highlighted the complex nature of paternity disputes and their implications on familial relationships and individual rights.


Contesting paternity in Washington is a legal matter that requires careful consideration and adherence to procedural rules. It is highly recommended that individuals seeking to contest paternity consult with a qualified family law attorney to ensure their rights are protected and that all actions taken are in accordance with state laws.