Sometimes parenthood is a planned event, and sometimes it’s not. Either way, once you become a parent, your life will never be the same. What if the parents are not married? How does the mother get the father to help?
“Paternity” refers to establishing who the legal father is of a child. When a child’s parents are married, paternity is not an issue because the law assumes that the husband is the child’s legal father. If the parents aren’t married, then paternity will have to be established.
How Paternity is Legally Established
In Colorado, there are two ways that paternity can be established. The first way: the parents can establish paternity voluntarily. The second method is through a court action, in which case a judge decides who the child’s legal father is, and what his rights and responsibilities will be.
If the mother and father agree on who the father is, they can sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form, which establishes who the legal father of the child is. Once this form is signed, the father’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate.
After 60 days has passed since the VAP form was signed, neither parent can rescind or revoke their acknowledgement without going to court.
What happens if the parents don’t agree on paternity? In this scenario, someone will need to bring a court action in order to establish paternity. Under Colorado law, the following parties may initiate the court process:
- If the child is under 18, his or her personal representative
- The child’s mother
- The child’s “putative father”
- A county department of social services
- A legal representative of a qualifying party
Court Orders After Paternity is Established
Whether the parents sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, or establish paternity through genetic tests (DNA tests) that identify the biological father, once paternity is established, the judge has the authority to issue court orders for:
- Child support
- Child custody (physical and legal custody)
- Visitation (for the non-custodial parent)
- Health insurance for the child
- Payment for court costs
- Payment for the genetic testing
Once paternity has been established, not only does the child’s father become responsible for child support, but the father has the right to seek custody and/or visitation of his child. Essentially, once paternity is established, the father has the same rights and responsibilities of a divorced father.
Have further questions about paternity in Denver? Contact Jones Law Firm, PC at 303-799-8155 to schedule a free consultation with one of our family law attorneys.