As more couples conceive children outside of marriage, it is up to mothers and fathers to establish paternity. Why? Because the state cannot presume to know who a child’s father is if the couple is not married. Because of this, fathers, mothers, and children can miss out on rights and benefits that should be theirs. Therefore, it is important to establish paternity as soon as possible.
Establishing paternity means deciding who a child’s legal father is. The state can presume who a child’s father is if the child is conceived before or during a marriage or even within 300 days after the end of a marriage if neither the presumed father nor another man contests the paternity.
However, when a man and woman conceive a child outside of marriage, it is up to either the man, the woman, or both of them to establish the man as the biological and legal father.
As long as there is no legally recognized father in the child’s life, a paternity suit can be filed at any time to determine biological parentage. Likewise, any man who knows he is not the biological father can marry the child’s mother and establish legal paternity so the child can have a father figure and benefit from his assets, health insurance, and/or veteran allowances.
Once a man has been legally recognized as a child’s father, any claim challenging or rescinding his paternity must be filed within 60 days or, in rare cases, within 182 days (six months) if the original paternity was awarded by mistake, fraud, or negligence.
Any challenge to established paternity must provide clear and convincing evidence, even if filed within the narrow 60-day window.
A paternity suit can be initiated by the mother, the father, or even the child once the child has reached the age of 18. Either of the three may file a suit to establish the child’s biological father.
In certain situations, an outside party also could step in and initiate paternity proceedings. This could include a personal representative of the child if the child is 17 or younger, any man with a valid reason to believe he could be the child’s father, or any state or local service such as The Colorado Department of Human Resources.
Any person who has sexual intercourse in the state of Colorado automatically consents to a DNA test if a court orders it.
In paternity suits, when one of the parties — typically the alleged father — is trying to deny that he is a child’s biological father, a district court judge will require that the mother, child, and any potential fathers submit to genetic testing to determine biological paternity.
DNA test results tend to be decisive since they’ll either show a 0 percent accurate match or 99.9 percent accurate match.
However, a DNA test is not always required if a man volunteers to be a child’s legal father and neither the mother nor any other man challenges him.
Once paternity has been established, either voluntarily by the man or from a court-ordered DNA test, the father will be required to pay child support. Of course, he will also have parental rights to the child, such as visitation or even partial or full custody.
If the established father refuses to pay child support, or does not provide enough, he’ll be subject to enforcement measures.
Like all states, Colorado has child support agencies that track down “deadbeat dads” through a variety of methods, including Social Security numbers, employment records, DMV searches, etc. Courts can place liens on property, garnish wages, and even imprison fathers who don’t pay their child support.
There is no age restriction whatsoever. Children of any age can provide DNA samples to be tested. A human’s DNA does not change with age.
No. In Colorado, a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP or VAP) cannot be filed with only one parent’s signature. This particular situation requires a legal consultation in order to determine paternity.
If the child is a boy, other relatives of the presumed biological father can be required to submit DNA samples through a paternity suit. Because males possess both the X and Y chromosomes, the child’s Y chromosomes can be compared to the DNA of the deceased father’s male relatives. This is not a practical solution for daughters since females possess two X chromosomes. In that case, there would be no Y chromosome to compare to paternal relatives.
Of course, it’s worthwhile! Even if it seems like a lot of bother over nothing for now, if you don’t establish paternity, your child will not be able to get child support or health insurance even after the alleged father gets a job.
Proving who the father is as soon as possible will make it easier to collect child support later.