In Colorado, there are a few different ways for paternity to be established. First, if a couple is married or they separated shortly before the birth of a child, the man is presumed by the state to be the father.
If the parents are not and have never been married, the father may sign an affidavit of paternity or allow his name to be included on the birth certificate. If someone outside of the relationship is thought to be the father or there are doubts to paternity coming from either the father or mother, a paternity test will need to be administered.
Costs and Establishing Paternity
There are three ways of establishing paternity in Colorado, each with varying costs:
- Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP) - This is a form unmarried couples file before a witness that voluntarily establishes the man as the biological father. An AOP is free if filed at the child's birth, but costs up to $37 if filed after the deadline.
- Paternity Orders through Child Support - This method establishes paternity through Child Support Services. After paying an initial $20 fee to apply for child support, parents also face other costs such as genetic testing and court fees.
- Judicial Paternity Order - This method establishes paternity through court action before a judge, typically with the assistance of attorneys. Costs for this method can vary: filing fees for the Order are determined by the court, while attorney fees are agreed upon between the client and attorney.
Evidently, the costs of establishing paternity can vary. A woman seeking assistance through the division of child support enforcement may be able to obtain a court-ordered paternity test for free or for a small administrative fee. On the other hand, a putative father may need to pay the fees at a recognized DNA testing center. If a paternity test shows a man is within 97% likelihood of being the father, he can be declared a legal parent. Any man in Colorado who has engaged in sexual intercourse may be subjected to paternity testing.
How Paternity Impacts Parental Responsibility
While scheduling a consultation with a Brighton family law attorney is the best option to consider if you wish to understand all the details, there are some general points that mothers and fathers should understand about paternity, parental responsibility, visitation rights, and child support.
- Once paternity has been established through any channel, child support will be ordered.
- Neither paternity or a child support order guarantees access to the child.
- Unmarried, divorced, or separated fathers must seek out access and visitation with the help of a family lawyer.
It is also important to remember that being excluded as the father does not automatically eliminate parental rights and responsibilities. Colorado law respects established relationships and obligations. For example, under Denver family law, a man discovering that his five-year-old was actually fathered by another man may not simply stop paying support. At the same time, the child’s mother cannot have visitation or other access. Only the courts may terminate or establish rights in these cases.
A qualified Denver family law firm can help both mothers and putative fathers with paternity testing and any subsequent legal actions.
The Benefits of Establishing Paternity
There are benefits for all parties when paternity is established. Men become aware of children they have fathered and can pursue a relationship with them. They may even use establishment of paternity to pursue parental rights and joint custody arrangements.
Child support orders may also be issued when paternity is established. This ensures the child receives the financial support they are entitled to. In addition to this, establishing paternity gives the child the right to access insurance and other benefits that children who have had paternity established at birth have. Establishing paternity gives children the right to inherit property and make claims against the estates of their parents.
No matter what your situation is, the process of establishing paternity or excluding someone as a potential father is complex. Regardless of what the results are, further legal action is likely to be needed. Please contact us today for assistance with your unique case.