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Child Custody for Unmarried Parents

Ending a serious relationship is never easy, especially when children are involved. Whether you were married or not, it’s important for you to obtain child custody orders that consider both the short-term and the long-term well-being of your child. At Plog & Stein, P.C., our Denver child custody lawyers can look into the circumstances of a case involving child custody for unmarried parents and help you understand your rights and options. We will help you advocate for a parenting arrangement, whether joint custody or otherwise, that promotes your child’s best interests and future.

Colorado custody laws for unwed parents

Issues Surrounding Child Custody for Unmarried Parents in Colorado

It is increasingly common for unwed parents to have a child and remain unmarried. In fact, statistics show that roughly half of the children born in the U.S. are born to unwed parents. Colorado law does not make distinctions related to marital status and custody in terms of substantive outcomes regarding parenting time or decision-making rights.

Unmarried parents have the same rights as married parents in the state of Colorado, although there can be procedural and strategic differences when dealing with custody cases involving unmarried parents.

Firstly, when a child is born during a marriage, there is a statutory presumption that the husband is the father. Likewise, the family has generally existed in an intact fashion, with both parents being in the same home for some time and having at least some regular contact with the child. Conversely, in some child custody cases, there may have been little or no contact between the child and the other parent, typically the father.

While many child custody cases commence with no issues as to the biological ties between each parent, others start with one party or the other having questions regarding paternity. When one party questions who the father is, either a paternity case can be filed, which will be governed under C.R.S. Title 19 and juvenile statutes, or the issue of paternity can be raised in a standard custody (allocation of parental responsibilities case). In most instances, paternity is not an issue. It should be noted that paternity does not necessarily need to be established to seek parental responsibilities under C.R.S. 14-10-123.

The average custody case with unmarried parents entails a couple which lived together for some time during the child’s life. Parental roles and involvement have often already been established. However, unlike a divorce situation, there can be challenges for one parent or the other tied into finances. In a child custody case, the court has no authority to enter orders tied into spousal support (maintenance), or property. As such, it’s not uncommon to see situations in which a couple breaks up and one parent struggles financially due to their financial dependence on the other suddenly being impacted. The financial safety net(s) that can come in a divorce are not there for the parent who stayed at home with the children while the other worked. In these instances, getting child support established quickly can help defray the new concerns of financially raising a child on your own.

Just as the law treats parents the same, whether married or not, the attorneys at Plog & Stein understand the importance of child custody and support cases for all of our clients, regardless of marital status.

Contact a Knowledgeable Lawyer in Denver or Surrounding Cities

Whether you are going through a divorce with kids or you need assistance with a matter involving child custody for unmarried parents, we can help. At Plog & Stein, P.C., our Denver divorce lawyers understand the intricacies of this area of law and are ready to answer your questions and explain your options. Guided by over 70 years of combined experience, we have helped many unmarried parents resolve their child custody concerns and can help you as well. We represent people in Denver, Westminster, Broomfield, Arvada, and other cities in Adams, Jefferson, and Boulder, Counties. To discuss your case in more detail with an experienced attorney, call us at (303) 781-0322 or contact us online.