How Our Paternity Lawyers Can Help
Determining who is legally the parent of a child provides many benefits to the child as well as establishes a relationship between the parent and the child. However, when paternity (also referred to as parentage) is unclear, it is important to involve an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the legal landscape. Our family law attorneys are experienced in paternity issues, and we can help establish paternity of your child, assist you in contesting a claim that you are the parent of a child, or provide guidance when changing legal paternity of a child where appropriate.
At the Gasper Law Group, we understand paternity can be a complicated issue. Our family law attorneys are knowledgeable about current laws regarding parentage and are skilled at providing legal representation both for parents seeking to establish parentage of a child or contest a petition to establish paternity. To set up a FREE initial consultation to discuss your case with our skilled Colorado Springs lawyers, call us at (719) 227-7779 or complete our contact form.
Colorado Paternity Laws
Paternity in general is defined as establishing who the parents are of a child. Establishing paternity falls under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) which governs how paternity law for both married and unmarried couples is managed. Paternity usually refers to the father of the child, while maternity refers to the mother. However, Colorado law considers all interested parties as having an equal stake in a child’s parentage, and it is worth noting that presumptions of parentage under Colorado law are gender-neutral, meaning maternity is not always assumed when a woman births a child. Not all states have gender-neutral parentage laws, but Colorado has progressed forward in this language for its laws.
Presumptions of paternity in Colorado are all considered equal and can include:
- Biological parent – Under Colorado law, parentage is presumed if the parent has a biological connection to the child.
- Married to the mother – Being legally married to the mother of the child can be considered a presumption of parentage.
- Signing the birth certificate – If a parent has signed the child’s birth certificate, they are legally considered the parent under Colorado law.
- Holding out the child as their own – If the parent is publicly claiming the child as their progeny, then parentage can be assumed.
How Paternity is Established
If both parents agree on parentage, Colorado law allows them to sign a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity” form, which establishes the alleged parent as the legal parent of the child. After this VAP form has been signed, the parent’s name can be added to the child’s birth certificate. Once 60 days have passed since the signing of the acknowledgment, neither parent can revoke or rescind their acknowledgment without a court action.
If the parents don’t agree on paternity, someone will need to bring a court action in order to establish it. Colorado courts have a district court system with one district court covering several counties. The case should be started in the district court for the county where the child or putative father (the man who believes he is the father) resides or where public benefits are being paid on the child’s behalf.
In Colorado, any of the following may start the court process:
- The child
- A personal representative for the child if they are under 18 years of age
- The child’s mother
- The putative father
- The Colorado Department of Human Resources
- A county department of social services
- A legal representative for a person who has the right to go to court to establish paternity but is deceased, incapacitated, or a minor
Benefits of Establishing Paternity
Aside from establishing a parent-child relationship, establishing paternity in Colorado can have some of the following benefits:
- Providing legal means to establish child support – If there is not a child support order in place, determining parentage can be one part of beginning the legal process where the parent with custody receives child support from the parent. If child support is in dispute, such as in the course of the divorce process or because the parent does not believe the child is biologically related to them, then establishing paternity may be necessary.
- Providing legal means to establish custody/visitation with the child – Once parentage is established, the parent has the right to seek custody and/or visitation. Both parents will need to establish some type of visitation schedule to make this possible. The parent can even request joint legal custody, which means that both parents would have equal say in decisions concerning the child’s welfare, such as health care, education, and religious upbringing.
- Enrolling the child in DEERS – If a parent is a member of the military, paternity can provide the means to give the child access to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and enroll them in Tricare. This may be especially important if the child has no other means to receive health insurance from their other parent.
- Providing the child access to the parents Social Security disability benefits – If a parent is a member of the military or a veteran, establishing paternity can give the child access to benefits as a result of the parent’s disability.
- Establishing tax implications for the parent – Following the establishment of parentage, a parent might be able to claim the child on their taxes or take advantage of other credits relating to childcare they might not previously have been able to do because they were not legally the child’s parent.
- Providing the child with health information – It can be very important that the child knows the health history of both parents for medical care and treatment.
Paternity DNA Testing in Colorado
With the progression of science resulting in more accurate testing, establishing paternity is easier and more reliable than in the past. DNA testing methods include SWAB Test and DNA Genetic Identity. In Colorado, a DNA test is not required to determine parentage, but it might be requested. Sometimes there is no reason to prove or disprove parentage, as noted in the above presumptions of paternity examples. The cost of a DNA test in Colorado varies and is subject to change, but it averages at about $750. The test results can show conclusively if a man is or is not a child’s father to a high degree of certainty.
Upon receipt of the DNA results, the court will either dismiss the petition if the man is not the natural father or set the matter for hearing. In some cases, the man may not be the natural father but may have held the child out to be his own, in which there will be a question of a presumptive/psychological/de facto parent where the court will determine if the man is or should be determined to be the father of the child as to maintain the bond and relationship the child has with the man. No matter what your situation is, our father’s rights lawyers can help you navigate your paternity case.
Paternity Statute of Limitations
If parentage was not previously established—meaning there has not been a case where the child’s paternity was determined—then there is no statute of limitations, meaning a parent could seek to establish paternity regardless of the child’s age.
However, if paternity was previously established, there is a limited window of time in which the finding can be contested. Because the laws change frequently, it is important to contact an experienced paternity attorney to find out if parentage can be contested.
Another important note to remember before your consult is to ensure you tell the attorney if a previous case in another state determined paternity, as that will factor into what kind of assistance a paternity attorney can provide.
Contact Our Colorado Springs Paternity Attorneys
For help with a paternity case in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas, contact the Gasper Law Group today to speak to one of our skilled attorneys in a FREE initial consultation! We have experience handling complex paternity cases and will always have your and the child’s best interests in mind.