What is the Paternity Acknowledgment Program?

In 2017,  27,096 children were born to unmarried parents in Washington State. The Paternity Acknowledgment Program provides unmarried parents an opportunity to voluntarily sign a Paternity Acknowledgment. Once both parents sign the acknowledgment and it is notarized, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) may enter the father's name on the birth certificate. The acknowledgment establishes a legal finding of paternity. A parent may rescind his or her signature by initiating a court action within no more than 60 days after the Paternity Acknowledgment is filed at DOH. After the rescission period, a challenge to the acknowledgment may be filed in court for limited reasons up to 4 years after the acknowledgment is filed with DOH. Legally establishing paternity helps a child become eligible to receive certain benefits if needed. Some of those benefits include child support, social security, health insurance, and inheritance rights. Establishing paternity also makes it possible for the child to enjoy a sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents. Washington's program began in July 1989. Your efforts helped the parents of over 21,245 children sign a Paternity Acknowledgment last year.


A Guide for Providers in Washington State


Hospitals, midwives, birth clinics, health departments, physicians, and other organizations form the back-bone of Washington State's Paternity Acknowledgment Program. Your efforts have made Washington State's program an outstanding success and a model for the nation. This guide provides you with the information you need to comply with federal and state laws and meet the needs of parents who desire to sign a paternity acknowledgment. We sincerely appreciate your efforts!