Colorado Paternity Introduction
Under the Uniform Parentage Act, adopted in Colorado, either parent may file a petition to establish a father's paternity in Colorado. If the Colorado family law court finds the alleged father really is the child's father, then it will issue orders pertaining to parenting and financial rights and responsibilities. Colorado paternity is a complicated area, and the result depends upon a variety of issues, such as genetic testing, the name on the birth certificate, whether the mother is married to someone else, whether there has been an acknowledgment of paternity, the age of the child, etc.
If the El Paso County Child Support Enforcement Unit (or your local CSEU) is unable to assist (and while they help a parent establish paternity strictly for child support purposes, the CSEU cannot get involved in issues involving parenting rights and responsibilities), a Colorado family law attorney who knows paternity laws is indispensable.
Legally establishing Colorado paternity is a good idea, even if the parents get along. It cements the father's bond to his child and gives him legal rights. Should the parties disagree in the future, it ensures the parent with primary residential responsibility receives child support, and it allows the child to grow up with certain knowledge of who his/her parents are.
Colorado Acknowledgment of Paternity
The parties can voluntarily execute a joint Acknowledgment of Paternity. This acknowledgment legally establishes the father's paternity, and is legally binding after 60 days have elapsed. Note that the acknowledgment itself does not establish a child support amount, custody rights or a parenting schedule - if the parties disagree on them, they will need a family law court order in Colorado.
In order to be on the birth certificate, Colorado requires a father who is not married to the child's mother to execute an acknowledgment of paternity. Since the practical effect may be the alleged father cannot later challenge paternity, think carefully before signing the form with smiley faces the nurse may bring at the hospital!
Effect of a Colorado Paternity Decree
Colorado child support arrangements are similar to those in a Colorado divorce, legal separation, or annulment, with one important caveat: the obligor may have to pay back support retroactive to the child's birth, plus the child's birthing costs! Back support is mandatory to repay Colorado social services for payments, and at the discretion of the Colorado paternity court in other cases.
If you are a potential father served with a paternity summons, just like any other summons, do NOT ignore it. Doing so risks the Colorado family law court imposing a very one-sided decree against you, so contact a Colorado paternity lawyer if you have questions.
www.genelex.com. Information on paternity genetic testing.
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