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Men battle for visitation rights in spite of Washington law

In Washington State, paternity disagreements can lead to emotions running high, and they can affect child custody, the parents' relationship with their children, visitation rights and much more. When parental rights are at issue, paternity is sometimes a key component. As with any legal issue concerning family matters, having competent legal advice often means the difference between a satisfactory resolution and a continuous battle regarding the child and the parents.

A growing concern over how Washington courts deal with paternity is coming to the forefront. While DNA tests are used to establish paternity, a law that has become known as "paternity fraud" by those who are affected by it is becoming more prevalent. One man in particular has not seen the boy he believed was his son for ten years. Another man has not seen his 5-year-old daughter for 18 months. The overriding issue in these cases is that the presumed parents parted ways, and the law and DNA evidence as to the paternity is not helping to resolve them. The main issue is the paternity affidavit.

The first man signed the affidavit under the impression that the mother of the child was being honest with him about him being the boy's biological father. Because the couple was no longer together, the man went to court in an attempt to change his visitation rights. There was a paternity test done and it was found that he was not the child's biological father. He wanted to continue seeing the child he'd helped raise, but was denied the request. His name, however, remains on the paternity affidavit. Under the law, if it has not been altered for four years after it was signed, it cannot be changed. Because of that, he's still paying for the child's care but is not allowed to see him.

In the other case, the man is the biological father, but because the mother was married to another man at the time, the biological father's name is not on the paternity affidavit. He has been ruled to have no legal rights to see the child.

There is a movement to have the law regarding this issue changed, but it is still in process and does not help these men at the moment. Those who are facing a similar problems regarding the paternity affidavit need to be aware of how to move forward with a legal case. Speaking to an experienced family law attorney can help.

Source: komonews.com, "Families battle over so-called Paternity Fraud," Tracy Vedder, Jan. 13, 2016

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