Paternity in Colorado
Martin Law Firm specializes in helping the presumed father in Colorado paternity cases. Legal assistance includes obtaining a determination of paternity, establishing visitation and legal custody, determination of child support, changing or correcting the child’s family name, and assessment of birth costs and payment responsibility.
Paternity may be determined by genetic (DNA) testing. If the testing results in a probability of paternity of 97% or higher, Colorado law presumes you are the child’s father.
Paternity will be presumed, without DNA testing, if you were married to the child’s mother, listed yourself as the father on the child’s birth certificate, signed a sworn statement acknowledging that you are the dad, took the child into your home and held yourself out to be the child’s father, or voluntarily supported the child as your own. For further reference, see CRS 19-4-105.
If paternity is not presumed or has not been determined, the mother, the putative (assumed or probable) father, or a county department of Social Services may file a Petition to Determine Paternity under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) with the Juvenile Court, if in Denver County, or with the Juvenile (JV) division of the Colorado District Court in the county where the child resides. Once the Petition has been filed, any of the parties to the case may obtain a court order directing paternity testing. These proceedings are under Title 19 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS).
Paternity may also be determined in the context of a parental responsibility or custody proceeding in the Domestic Relations (DR) division of the Colorado District Court. These proceedings are under Article 10 of CRS Title 14, known as the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (UMDA).
If, after testing, paternity remains in question or the presumption is challenged, a trial may be requested to resolve the matter.
There are a number of companies that offer genetic (DNA) paternity testing (links provided as a courtesy only – not as an endorsement):
Birth Costs & Child Support
Once it is established that you are the child’s father, child support will be determined and ordered paid by the Court. For information on how the amount of support is calculated, visit the Child Support link on this site. Under Colorado law, if the case is filed under the Juvenile Code (UPA – Uniform Parentage Act) (i.e., it is a JV case), child support may be ordered retroactive (back dated) to the date the child was born. If the case is filed as a parental responsibility or custody case (UMDA – Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act), child support may be ordered retroactive to the date the court obtained jurisdiction over the father: at the time the Petition was filed if the father filed the case; on the date the father was personally served with a Summons if the mother filed the case.
Costs incurred for the birth of the child may be charged to the father in a JV paternity case.
NOTE: Whether birth costs can be obtained in a UMDA case is subject to dispute in the appellate courts. A September 15, 2011 decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals (In re the Parental Responsibilities Concerning G.E.R. and Concerning Terrell, 11 C.A. 32 (Colo. App. 2011)) held that birth costs may be awarded in a custody case. One of the judges on the appellate panel in this case, however, disagreed with the two other judges and the matter may be revisited by the Colorado Supreme Court in the future.
Change of Birth Certificate & Child’s Name
At the time the court enters an order determining parentage of the child, the court will direct the Colorado Department of Vital Statistics to issue a new birth certificate reflecting paternity. Upon request of one of the parents, the court may also order that the child’s birth name be changed as well. Typically, the change will be to the child’s family or surname to that of the father, a hyphenation of the mother and father’s family names, or other variation that reflects the child’s heritage or cultural background.
Information on obtaining a copy of your child’s birth certificate may be found at the link listed below:
Custody & Visitation
The assumed (putative) father does not have a right of access or the right to parent the child until there exists a legal presumption of paternity or a court has entered an order declaring paternity. Once there has been a legal determination of paternity (your name is on the birth certificate), then the father has an enforceable, Constitutional, right to raise his child along with and a duty to care for and support that child.
Custody (Parental Responsibility) and Visitation (Parenting Time) may be determined and ordered by the court in either a Paternity (JV) or Custody (DR) case once there has been a determination of paternity. For more information visit the Visitation & Custody link on this site.
The information provided above is general in nature, is not intended as legal advice for your particular situation and should not be relied upon without first consulting with legal counsel. Martin Law Firm provides legal representation in paternity and father’s rights matters in the Denver, Colorado, metro area and will tailor its services to your particular needs and unique circumstances.