These days, it’s becoming increasingly common for children to be born to unmarried parents. Since so many children are born out of wedlock (outside of marriage) across the country, legal questions have been raised about fathers, and the rights they have when they are not married to their children’s mothers.
What rights does an unmarried father have to his children? In all states, not just Colorado, unmarried fathers have zero rights and responsibilities to their children until paternity is established. Once paternity is legally established, the family court can issue orders for child support, child custody, visitation, medical expenses, and so on.
What Does Paternity Mean?
“Paternity” means to establish a child’s legal father. When a child is born to married parents, the law automatically assumes that the woman’s husband is the child’s biological and legal father. But if a child is born and his or her parents are not legally married, paternity will have to be established before the mother can seek a child support order, and before the father can ask the court for custody or visitation.
Generally, unmarried parents voluntarily complete the Acknowledgement of Paternity form shortly after the child’s birth at the hospital. However, if the mother or alleged father have any doubts about paternity, they should NOT sign this form. Instead, they should ask the court for genetic testing (a DNA test), which is performed after the child’s birth.
What If Signing the Form Was a Mistake?
Sometimes, a man will be told that he is a child’s father and he will attend the birth and sign the Acknowledgement of Paternity form, but after the child’s birth, he discovers that he may not be the child’s father, or that he is not the child’s father.
Understandably, such news can be unsettling. If this is a concern, it’s important for you to know that 60 days after a man signs an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, it becomes a “legal finding of paternity.” If this happened to you, and it’s been less than 60 days since the birth, contact a family law attorney to promptly address the issue. You’ll need to submit to a paternity test to determine if you are the child’s father.
If more than 60 days have passed and you recently learned that you may not be the father, you can still contact a lawyer, however, there is a possibility that the court will not reverse the legal finding of paternity. In other words, you may still be the child’s legal father, even if you are not the child’s biological father. This means you will have to pay child support. If you want to challenge your status as a legal father, call us right away so we can help you.
For professional legal assistance with a paternity or child custody matter in Denver, contact Jones Law Firm, PC.