Washington State gearing up to combat Paternity Fraud
October 3, 2014
With no fix yet on the books, Paternity Fraud continues to thrive here in Washington State. This year, however, citizens and elected officials are going to try and start changing that. A Bill has been drafted for the next legislative session that would allow incorrectly named parents and victims of fraud or forced adoption to appeal such rulings by our family courts.
You can download the Senate version of the Bill as a .pdf here.
Last year’s effort to help combat paternity fraud was hampered by a late start and a very short legislative session. Still, the bill made it past the Law and Justice Committee in Olympia and on through a second reading by the Senate Rules Committee. As far as I know this is the furthest any legislation of this type has ever gotten so there’s plenty to be encouraged about. The text of the bill this year is identical to last and the .pdf linked above still shows the previous date. When it is updated with a new number by the Senate and House for this year I will report on it here for you.
This year we have elections happening across the state for legislative positions and only the Senate Bill has a primary sponsor. A companion bill for the House is planned and exactly whom will sponsor that we won’t know until after elections. What we don’t have to wait on however is informing our current elected officials about this bill already in the works. Residents of Washington State can find the contact information for their representatives in the House & Senate by using the Washington District Finder.
As you probably summarized by how I started this article one of the biggest problems allowing paternity fraud to flourish in our state is the inability of victims to appeal wrongful orders handed down in our family court system. Currently under the Revised Codes of Washington State (RCW) judges can simply refuse such an appeal even when lawfully filed within the (4) year time limit to do so. You can show up at the court house with all the evidence, paperwork and DNA tests you want on day one of those four years and it’ll still do no good.
The guidelines allowing the court to refuse an appeal can be read here, RCW 26.26.535. For those that choose to give them a glance I would challenge you to try and come up with any set of circumstances that the court still couldn’t refuse your appeal with. They are incredibly generalized. The fact that there is a four year time limit suggests that an appeal might be possible but I fail to imagine under what conditions that might be.
The bill being worked on now would allow the disestablishment of paternity when genetic testing shows by clear and convincing evidence that the wrong person has been named as the birth father of a child. A petition must be filed within two (2) years after knowledge of facts indicating the man is not the child’s birth father. While not stopping paternity fraud from happening this is still a step in the right direction for Washington State by providing a legal remedy once it has come to light by allowing an appeal.
I’ll be following up this article with more on paternity fraud in Washington State and any new news on the bill. Some of it may be repetitive for my long time readers but hopefully mitigated with direct opinions or quotes by our representatives through feedback and any interview granted me. Stay tuned!
For now I will just close out with a big Thank You to the bill Sponsors and everyone helping with this year’s legislation.
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