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Paternity Establishment

Program Overview: Paternity Establishment through Division of Child Support

The Division of Child Support provides services for the establishment of paternity, and the establishment, modification and enforcement of child support orders to help families become or remain economically secure.  Fathers can apply for these services to even if they don’t have custody of their children.  Contact them for more information or application at 800-457-6202 or check their website at (look on the left side and click on Establishing Parentage).

Did You Know?

In the State Fiscal Year 2020, Washington Division of Child Support established parentage for 12,713 children, 79.8% of which were established using the Acknowledgement of Parentage. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  My baby’s mom and I are not married, do I have to go to court to get on the birth certificate?

A:  You don’t have to go to court to become the legal parent.  You can file an Acknowledgment of Parentage which is a simple, quick, and inexpensive way to legally establish parentage when the parents aren’t married and the child was born in Washington State.   It should be used only when both the birth mother and the father/other parent are sure that they are the only other possible parents of the child.  If the baby’s mom is married to someone else, this process will require some additional paperwork, but it is still possible.   Please call the Division of Child Support, Community Relations Unit if you have any questions about this option, 1-800-457-6202.  You may also find additional information on the Department of Health Acknowledgment of Parentage page

Q:  What if I am willing to sign an Acknowledgment of Parentage, but want genetic testing to make sure I’m dad?

A:  If the mom is not married to anyone and your child born in Washington and is under two years of age, you may be able to apply for the Voluntary Paternity Testing Program.  Both you and the mother must be willing to have the genetic testing done and sign the Acknowledgment of Parentage if you are determined to be the biological father. You may call the Voluntary Paternity Testing Program phone line at 1-800-285-1892 if you have questions or would like more information.   If your child is too old or not born in WA State, you may apply for services and the Division of Child Support will try to establish parentage for you.   Please call the Community Relations Unit if you have any questions about this option, 1-800-457-6202.



Q:  If I sign an Acknowledgment of Parentage, do I get to see my child?  Do I have to pay child support?

A:   An Acknowledgment of Parentage does not guarantee visitation or establish a child support order.  Establishing you as the father is part of the process to establish visitation, but only the courts may address legal custody and visitation issues.  Establishing parentage is also part of the process to establish a child support obligation.  Please call the Community Relations Unit if you would like further information about this at 1-800-457-6202.

For More Information...

More information about parentage and Acknowledgments of Parentage can be found on the DCS website FAQ for Parents, the DOH Parentage page, the DOH Acknowledgment of Parentage page, the DOH Parentage FAQ page, or by calling the Acknowledgment of Parentage information line at 800-356-0463.  You may also call the Division of Child Support Community Relations Unit at 800-457-6202 to discuss your options.

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