Denver Paternity Lawyer
Colorado has adopted the Uniform Parentage Act, which allows either parent of a child to file a petition to establish paternity. If the family law (juvenile) court finds that a particular person is the child’s father, it can issue orders related to parenting time and child support. In general, it is important to accurately and legally establish paternity in Colorado because it strengthens a father’s bond with his child and determines both rights and obligations.
If two parents disagree or do not get along in the future, having certainty in this area ensures that the child is supported regardless of the parents’ feelings about each other. It also allows a young person to feel confident about his or her identity and origins. Our Denver paternity lawyers at Plog & Stein, P.C. can help you seek to establish or contest paternity. Let us help you make sure that your child has the financial and emotional security that he or she needs. We can also help secure visitation and custody rights.
If you would like to retain our services for a paternity case, call us at (303) 781-0322.
Presumptions of Paternity in Colorado
It is presumed in Colorado that a man is the natural father of a child in several different circumstances. The presumption of paternity applies when a child is born during a marriage or when a child is born within 300 days of termination of either a valid marriage or an invalid marriage that the parents treated as valid.
A presumption of paternity also applies when a man and the child’s mother marry or try to marry each other after the child’s birth, and any of the following happens:
- The father acknowledges paternity in a document filed with the state Department of Health
- The father consents to being named as the child’s father on the birth certificate
- The father is obligated to support the child through a voluntarily written promise, court order, or administrative order
- The father receives the child into his home while the child is under the age of majority and holds the child out to the public as his natural child
- Genetic testing establishes parentage
- The father executes and signs a voluntary written acknowledgment of paternity, which is filed with the Department of Health and not disputed by the mother
A couple can voluntarily execute a joint Acknowledgement of Paternity that establishes paternity. This document becomes legally binding after 60 days have passed. However, as an attorney can explain, the Acknowledgement alone doesn’t establish child support or a parenting time schedule. A court order is required to create these rights and obligations. In general, an individual who is determined to be the father through judicial proceedings or who acknowledges paternity may have to pay back support from the child’s birth onward and also contribute to the child’s birthing costs. If there is a dispute over paternity, a court typically requires DNA testing or other reliable genetic testing.
Child Support & Paternity Cases
Aside from the parental responsibilities and visitation aspects of a paternity case, the financial ramifications can be significantly different from a “domestic relations” case, whether divorce or custody. Colorado statute, Title 19, authorizes a court to award child support potentially back to the date of the birth of the child. In child support cases, child support can be assessed back to the service date.
The following birth-related costs can be assessed:
- Doctor bills
- Hospital bills
What Is the Difference Between a “Custody” Case and a “Paternity” Case?
A custody, or “parental responsibility,” case is filed pursuant to C.R.S. Title 14. A “paternity” case is filed pursuant to C.R.S. Title 19, Article 4. Title 19 is sometimes referred to as the Juvenile Code. Custody and paternity cases are extremely similar, in that custody, visitation, and child support are the primary issues in both. The main difference is that with a paternity case, the paternity of the child has either not been established, or is not fully accepted by both parties. In a paternity case, the first step will be for either both parties to agree to paternity or for genetic (DNA) testing to be done. There are certain advantages for both mothers and fathers in pursuing a paternity case, as opposed to custody. For fathers, questions of paternity may arise based on suspicion, infidelity, or statements of the mother that a child is “not yours.” Thus, the establishment of paternity, or disestablishment, can provide certainty. For mothers, the primary benefit of a paternity action is that C.R.S. Title 19 provides for a potential order of support back to the birth of the child, including birthing costs. This is contrary to a pure Title 14 custody case, in which the other party is on the hook for child support only back to the date of service. There are also differences between the two types of cases related to the applicability of aspects of the rules of civil procedure, particularly Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 16.2, which governs all procedural aspects of a custody case. Our experienced custody attorneys can help determine which type of case is best for a client’s needs, mapped up with the facts and circumstances of his or her individual case.
A paternity case can arise at any time in the child’s life and yours. Knowing your rights and potential risks as to the financial aspects of a paternity case are critical for the future.
Have Questions? Seek Legal Guidance From Our Denver Paternity Attorney at Plog & Stein, P.C.!
Paternity disputes can be emotionally challenging for both parties. It is important to have a Denver paternity attorney whom you trust to give you honest advice about a sensible course of action in a sensitive, potentially life-altering situation. Our lawyers help clients in Denver and the surrounding communities who are struggling with questions of parentage and parenting obligations. Establishing paternity does not necessarily result in getting custody, but it is a first step towards determining child support obligations and a parenting time schedule. We also handle spousal support and property division cases.
Need legal assistance with a paternity case? Contact us for the attentive and well-versed counsel you need.