Paternity is a father’s legal status as the parent of a child. For the most part, paternity is not an issue if a couple has a child while married. In this situation, paternity will automatically go to the father. If the couple is not married, however, they may need to establish paternity. Establishing paternity is a legal process that can have many benefits for your child.
Why Would You Need to Establish Paternity?
You may want to establish paternity for several reasons. One is to make a claim for child support. Before the courts will force a father to pay child support, the mother must establish paternity. Without paternity, the father will have no legal obligation to pay to support the child. Upon establishing paternity, the child’s father will become legally responsible for child support if the couple is no longer together. As a single parent, establishing paternity could open the doors to financial support for food, shelter, education and other childcare needs.
Establishing paternity could also benefit the child in terms of insurance coverage. If the father has a job that extends health insurance coverage to dependents, for example, establishing that person’s paternity could allow a child to enter the parent’s health insurance plan. If the father is a veteran, the child could be eligible for disability benefits as well as an established dependent.
Establishing paternity is not just for the benefit of the child. A father may wish to establish his own paternity as well. If a father wants the legal right to visit the child or have partial custody, the father will need to establish paternity before the courts will grant him these rights. A man who has raised a child that is not his own may also want to establish paternity to become the child’s legal father. This will give him equal rights in terms of deciding the child’s health care, religion, education and other important matters.
Different Ways to Establish Paternity in Colorado
If you wish to establish paternity in Colorado, you can do so in one of two ways. The first is voluntary. Establishing voluntary paternity requires both parents to agree on the father of the child. If both parents agree to establish paternity, they will sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity Form, which the courts will use to establish the parent as the legal father of the child. After signing this form, the family can add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate. Either parent has 60 days after signing the form to revoke the voluntary admittance of paternity. After 60 days, neither parent can rescind voluntary acknowledgment of paternity without going to court.
The second way to establish paternity is by bringing the alleged father to court. If the father is denying paternity or refusing to cooperate, you can file a court action requesting a paternity hearing. Parties who can initiate paternity hearings in Colorado are a child’s mother, the man who believes he is the father of the child, social services, the Colorado Department of Human Resources, a legal representative or the child if the child is 18.
If you wish to initiate a paternity case, go to the district court in your county. Only the district court will have the authority to rule in paternity cases. You will generally start your case after the birth of your child. You will need to present information and evidence establishing the father’s paternity, such as the results of a genetic test. The judge overseeing your case will then make a ruling on whether or not to establish paternity. If you succeed with your paternity case, the father may lawfully have to pay for expenses such as hospital bills for the birth of your child, child support and legal fees.
When to Contact an Attorney
Establishing paternity is a complicated matter in Colorado. If you believe this is something that will benefit your child or family, contact an attorney for assistance with the legal process. A lawyer with experience handling paternity cases can guide you through the process and help you achieve a successful outcome.