Paternity Issues: Establishing and Contesting in Colorado

June 27, 2024

How Are Paternity Issues Addressed in Colorado Law?

Fathers can play an essential role in their children’s lives by providing emotional and financial support and guidance. However, questions of parentage can arise under certain circumstances, leading to complex and challenging legal disputes. Establishing paternity can be a vital step in ensuring the physical and psychological well-being of a child at any point in their life, but it may be necessary to enlist the assistance of the court to settle disputes definitively. Understanding Colorado’s processes for establishing paternity and the available methods for contesting a paternity designation can be critical for mothers and presumed or prospective fathers alike. An experienced Colorado Springs paternity lawyer can answer your questions and guide you through the legal system as you seek to verify or challenge the identity of a child’s father.

Under What Circumstances is Paternity Automatically Assumed?

In Colorado, there are circumstances where the law automatically assigns paternity without any action on the part of the parents or the court. This situation is referred to as “assumed” or “presumed” paternity.

Presumptions of paternity aim to protect the rights of children born within a marriage or to parents representing themselves as a family unit. Automatically assuming paternity ensures the child has immediate access to financial support and other benefits from the presumed father.

Colorado Revised Statutes § 19-4-105 outlines the following situations where paternity is presumed:

  • If the parents are married when the child is born, the husband is presumed to be the child’s legal father.
  • If the child is born within 300 days after the parents’ marriage is terminated by annulment, death, legal separation, or divorce, the former husband is presumed to be the father.
  • If the couple married or entered a civil union following the child’s birth and the person asserted legal parentage in writing with the court, gave consent to be named as the child’s father on the birth certificate, or obligated themselves to support the child voluntarily or through a court order.
  • If the person took the minor child in question into their home and presented them as their natural child.

What is a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity?

If a child is born to unmarried parents, they may choose to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (VAOP) form to establish paternity. Both parents must willingly sign the form, which can be executed at the hospital, birthing facility, or the Office of Vital Records and Statistics. Once signed and filed, the VAOP has the same legal effect as a court order and will result in the father’s name being added to the birth certificate. Parents have 60 days to rescind the acknowledgment before it becomes legally binding.

What Are the Legal Requirements for Contesting Paternity in Colorado?

Contesting paternity involves challenging an existing acknowledgment or presumption of paternity in court. If paternity was established through a VAOP form signed by both parents, either parent can contest the acknowledgment within 60 days of signing. To contest paternity in this situation, one party must file a lawsuit in the district court of the county where the child or alleged father resides. Typically, the dispute is resolved by conducting DNA testing to confirm or deny the suspected father’s relationship to the child.

If more than 60 days have passed since the signing of the VAOP, contesting paternity requires filing a court action. The challenging party must provide clear and compelling evidence to the court to overturn the acknowledgment. Again, genetic testing may be administered as part of the case. Even in situations where the alleged father refuses to submit to testing, the judge has the authority to make a final ruling on paternity based on all evidence presented.

When paternity has been assumed, the parents still retain the right to challenge the assumption at any point if they become aware of convincing information that casts doubt upon the child’s parentage. For example, with the rise in popularity of at-home DNA tests, unexpected questions about paternity can emerge. While the court requires more accurate testing to legally establish paternity, this information may provide enough evidence for the court to proceed with the paternity lawsuit. However, consulting with a lawyer before undertaking any legal action is critical.

What Rights Does a Father Have After Establishing Paternity?

Establishing paternity can result in many important rights and responsibilities for a father, such as:

  • The right to seek parenting time, visitation, and/or decision-making responsibilities for the child.
  • The right to participate in and be consulted on vital choices in the child’s life, including medical care, education, and religious upbringing.
  • The duty to pay child support based on calculations of both parents’ incomes and the child’s requirements.
  • The right to provide an inheritance or other benefits to the child, including health insurance, veteran’s benefits, or Social Security.
  • The ability to give key health information to their child regarding any potential genetically inherited traits or ailments.
  • The chance to establish an emotional bond with their child, which can provide them with much-needed stability and support their well-being.

How Can a Skilled Paternity Lawyer Assist You?

If you have questions or concerns regarding your child’s biological parentage, taking steps to establish paternity can clarify your legal rights as a mother or father. Because paternity determinations can have life-altering psychological, health, and financial effects on both parents and the child, it is imperative to seek knowledgeable legal guidance when embarking on a paternity case.

Whether you are seeking to establish paternity or wish to contest a prior paternity designation, our skilled legal team at Brighter Day Law can help you navigate the process and advocate for your legal rights. We understand the deeply emotional nature of these cases and aim to provide compassionate, informative, and reliable representation to our clients. Contact our offices today at 719-733-9129 to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation and learn about your legal options.

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