It is not uncommon in Washington State for marriages to end and for there to be a dispute over child custody. However, there are certain aspects of family law that must be understood if there is a question regarding parentage. With the majority of marriages, there is no disagreement as to whom the parents of a child are. The spouses are the parents and the law makes this presumption. If the parties do not believe this to be the case, however, the spouses need to know what the law is before moving forward in a dispute.
If the couple is married - same sex or opposite sex - they are assumed to be the parents of a child if it was born within the confines of the marriage. If the child was born within 300 days after the marriage ended due to a death, the union was annulled, there was a divorce, a legal separation, or the marriage was declared invalid, the spouses are still considered to be the parents.
Washington law also presumes parentage where the spouses are in a legally recognized union and they voluntarily asserted their parentage in a document. The assertion must be on record with the state registrar; the person must have agreed to be on the birth certificate; and the person must be on the record agreeing to provide support to the child. Furthermore, a person will be presumed to be a parent if, during the first two years of the child's life, the person lived in the household and presented the child as his or her own.
If a parentage dispute arises, it is important to know how to sift through the legal presumptions and the possibility that a presumed parent might not actually be the biological parent. This could be a factor in child support, child custody and other family law issues. Any parent who has questions about parentage and how it might affect their rights in divorce proceedings should discuss the matter with an attorney.
Source: Washington Courts, "Chapter 8 Presumptions Of Parentage And Marriage," Accessed on Sept. 15, 2015