In order to either file or move to establish child custody or child support, first parentage has to be established.
There are several ways in which the court can make a parentage determination as outlined below.
Presumption of Paternity
In the District, father-child paternity is presumptive under the following circumstances:
- If the putative father and the child’s mother are married, or in a domestic partnership either at the time of conception or birth, or between conception and birth, and the child is born during the marriage or domestic partnership.
- If prior to the birth of the child, the putative father and the mother have attempted to marry and some form of marriage ceremony has been performed in compliance with the applicable law — even if such attempted marriage is or might be declared void for any reason, and the child is born during such attempted marriage.
- If, after the birth, the presumptive or putative father and the mother marry or attempt to marry even though such attempted marriage is or might be declared void for any reason, and he has acknowledged the child to be his; or
- If the putative father has acknowledged paternity in writing.
On the other hand, the mother-child relationship is established by a woman having given birth to a child, or by an adjudication of a woman’s parentage.
Same Sex Couples
With the same sex female couples there is a presumption joint parentage if the child was born into a marriage or in a domestic partnership, at the time of either conception or birth, or between conception or birth.
The presumption of paternity may be overcome upon proof by clear and convincing evidence that the presumed parent did not hold herself out as a parent of the child.
With same sex male couples there is a presumption of joint parentage via adoption.
Challenges to Presumption of Paternity
The presumption of paternity as detailed above may be challenged by clear and convincing evidence that the presumed father is not the child’s genetic parent.
The Court shall try the question of parentage, and may determine that the presumed parent is the child’s parent, notwithstanding evidence that the presumed parent is not the child’s genetic parent, after giving due consideration to
- Whether the conduct of the mother or the presumed parent should preclude that party from denying parentage;
- The child’s interests; and
- The duration and stability of the relationship between the child, the presumed parent, and the genetic parent.
- When there is presumed parent as outlined above, then a conclusive presumption of parentage shall be created by genetic testing that generally confirms by 99% probability that the person is the genetic parent of the child.
The parent-child relationship between an adoptive parent and a child may be established conclusively by proof of adoption.
Refer to our Washington DC Child Custody page for legal elements considered.
Refer to our Washington DC Child Support page for more details regarding child support liability and calculations.