Establishing Paternity In Colorado

November 15, 2022

Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity in Colorado is an essential legal process that determines the biological parents of a child and grants legal rights and responsibilities. It is vital to establish paternity for parental agreements and court orders involving child custody and child support. Colorado establishes paternity in three ways: assumed and automatic, voluntary, or through a court order. Assumed and automatic paternity occurs when the parents are married when the child is born. When a couple is unmarried, they can establish paternity voluntarily. The final way to institute paternity is through a court order, which is the most complex. This path occurs when there is a disagreement about the child's father's identity. If you have questions about the legal process or need help establishing paternity in Colorado, call an experienced family law lawyer at Johnson Law Group at 720-730-4558.

An Overview of Paternity in Colorado

Establishing paternity can be a challenging and complex task. This is especially true when unmarried couples have children. Still, children and potential parents deserve to know the biological father's identity. When two people are married at the time of birth, or the baby is born in a period of 300 days of divorce, Colorado law presumes the husband to be the child's father. If the two are unmarried, both parents can choose to sign the Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity. If, after signing the acknowledgment, questions arise about the paternity, the parents have 60 days to challenge the agreement in court by filing a paternity lawsuit.

What Is a Paternity Suit?

A paternity lawsuit is a legal action in the court to establish the child's biological father. The court orders the parents to submit to genetic testing to confirm the identity. Verifying the paternity of children is essential for establishing child visitation and custody and determining financial support calculations.

Either parent may challenge the child's parentage, causing the need to commence legal action. A compassionate family law attorney at Johnson Law Group understands this is a sensitive matter and can help families navigate the process of establishing paternity in Colorado.

Who Has the Legal Right to File a Paternity Suit in Colorado?

When babies are born to unmarried parents, the state of Colorado makes no presumptions of paternity. However, the parents may choose to acknowledge paternity upon birth. The Colorado Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity requires both parents to sign and execute the document.

If both parents agree and want parenting rights, they must sign to form jointly. If a parent questions the father's identity after the affidavit's execution, the acknowledgment will not take effect immediately. Both parents have 60 days to contest parental rights before the document is legally binding. When paternity is in question, one of the following people or entities has the authority to file a suit and establish parentage.

  • A person believing they are the biological father
  • The child's biological mother
  • The child or a personal representative if they are a minor
  • A representative from the local Department of Social Services from the baby's birth location
  • A legal representative for a person suspecting they are a biological parent in the case of incapacitation or death

The Time Limit for Filing for Paternity in Colorado

If the parents of a child never established parentage, there is no time limit for filing a paternity suit. If the parents did establish paternity, there may be time limitations depending on the process they used and current court orders. When working with an attorney, it is important to mention any agreements and rulings in other states.

The Uniform Parentage Act

The Uniform Parentage Act governs paternity cases in Colorado. The legislation establishes parent-child relationships, including voluntary acknowledgment and denial of parentage. Under the Act, the Colorado juvenile court has jurisdiction when the case meets two requirements. The child, or at least one parent, must live in Colorado, and one of the following must occur in the state.

  • The parents conceived the child
  • A process server delivers court order to the respondent parent
  • Both parents agree to the state's jurisdiction

According to the Colorado Revised Statutes § 13-25-126, the court has the authority to order the parents and child to submit to a genetic DNA test to confirm the biological father. Testing may include blood and tissue type or any appropriate testing to establish the identity of the child's birth parents.

If, after a court order, a parent refuses to submit to testing, the court has the legal authority to resolve parentage questions and enforce orders as they determine it is in the child's best interest. If genetic testing results exclude the father as a biological parent, the court may choose to modify orders regarding the legal rights and responsibilities of the child. After establishing the identity of the child's father, either parent has the right to seek action regarding the following:

  • Child support and custody agreements
  • Health insurance coverage
  • Income tax dependency exemption
  • Enrolling the child in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System for military families
  • Giving a child access to a parent's Social Security disability benefits
  • Any additional issues regarding the health and well-being of the child

Changing a Child’s Birth Certificate

There is also a process for changing the child's birth certificate after establishing paternity. According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment guidance, they require a copy of the certified paternity percentage documents with a data worksheet to remove a father's information from a birth certificate. The department requires a copy of the Acknowledgment of Parentage form to add the child's father's name.

Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Family Lawyer Today

The legal process for challenging or establishing paternity can be long and complex. The cases are also usually highly emotional and stressful for everyone involved. There are additional difficulties to overcome when one parent refuses to cooperate or participate. Even so, establishing paternity is crucial for parental rights and orders involving the child's financial support. For questions about establishing paternity in Colorado or help with a case, call a knowledgeable family lawyer at the Johnson Law Group at 720-730-4558.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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