Paternity is the process of establishing the father’s rights over a child. In the State of Colorado, paternity can be established in multiple ways, there isn’t a single process that is used exclusively. This is also the case with many other jurisdictions around the country. Paternity can basically be broken up into two separate categories: paternity through marriage, and paternity outside of marriage. In this post, we will an overview of both of these separate ways of establishing paternity in Colorado.
Presumption of Paternity for Married Couples
In the State of Colorado, the law has a presumption that paternity is definitively established if a child is born while the parents are married. This means that nothing further is necessary in order to create legal rights for the father. The husband is presumed to be the father and acquires legal rights at the time the child is born. The father’s name will automatically be added to the birth certificate, and the father will have child support obligations, and so forth.
Non-Marital Paternity: VAP Form or Court Action
If a child is born and the parents are not married, then paternity becomes a bit more complicated. There are multiple possible paths to take when the parents are unmarried. The simplest way occurs when both the mother and father agree on paternity, and can therefore submit a voluntary declaration of paternity. When parents agree on paternity, they can sign and submit something called a “Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity,” or VAP, which firmly establishes the identified person as the father. This person can then be added to the birth certificate and acquires all the rights due to the legal father.
If a VAP isn’t submitted, then court action will need to be initiated in order to determine paternity. This literally means that the matter will need to be litigated just like any other legal issue. The parties will need to present evidence to support their claims; perhaps the most relevant, and most powerful, evidence in such cases is genetic testing.
Only certain people have the standing to initiate a paternity court action. Those people include the child’s mother, the child, a representative of the child, the putative father, social services, or another legal representative for one of these aforementioned persons. In addition to making a determination regarding paternity, a judge in Colorado can issue other orders alongside a paternity decision. For instance, a judge can order that a certain person needs to pay for genetic testing, pay court costs, pay child support, pay for the child’s health insurance, and so on. The judge can also create a custody or visitation arrangement, depending on the status of the parents.
Paternity Confers Numerous Benefits
As mentioned, paternity carries numerous important consequences. Once the father has been identified, that person becomes legally responsible for the financial support of the child. The child also becomes eligible for health insurance benefits through the father, as well as disability benefits or veteran benefits, whenever applicable. The child also becomes the father’s heir, and so acquires inheritance rights.