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Paternity Law

Before a court can order child support, paternity must be proven. Paternity is the legal term used to establish a child’s biological father. Aside from the obvious genetic testing, there are several ways to establish paternity. 

At Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton, our attorneys have decades of experience with both family and paternity law. If you are looking to establish or challenge paternity, let our lawyers help. Here are some things you should know about paternity law and the different types of paternity.

Determining Paternity in Colorado

Paternity law comes into play when a child’s paternity is questioned or denied. The mother of the child may file a paternity lawsuit against who she claims is the father in order to receive child support. 

Each state has their own means for establishing paternity. They can legally establish it in two ways. These are voluntary acknowledgment of paternity or state-established paternity. Voluntary acknowledgement is exactly as it sounds, while state-established paternity is often conducted through genetic testing. 

A paternity suit generally begins when either parent seeks to establish paternity by filing a request through the court.

There are many ways that courts can establish paternity. The most promising of these is DNA or genetic testing. This can be as simple as testing the blood of the alleged father and the child. These types of tests are the most accurate way of determining parenthood. However, they are generally only performed when one party denies paternity of the child. 

Another obvious way to determine paternity is to look at the birth certificate. Whoever’s name appears on the child’s birth certificate is acknowledged as the father. 

Paternity can also be established by a judge. By order of a paternity action, the court will examine any extrinsic evidence, including a DNA test, to establish paternity.

Circumstantial evidence can also be used to establish paternity. This may be that the man was married to the woman at the time of the child’s conception or birth. It could also be considered circumstantial evidence If a man publicly identifies himself as the child’s father.

There are several different types of paternity, whether it is voluntary or involuntary. These are acknowledged, alleged, and presumed paternity. There are also paternity laws as they apply to the stepfather or equitable parent.

Paternity Types in Colorado

If a child is born to unmarried parents, the biological father must establish paternity to legally be considered a parent. Either both parents can agree to the paternity, or the father must sign an affidavit of parentage. This is what is known as acknowledged paternity.

The alleged father is an unwed man who the other parent names as the biological father. If the court assumes this to be true, they will offer a paternity test to him. Refusal of the test could result in a “default judgement” from the court. This means that they are led to assume that he is the father, regardless of whether it can be proven.

If a couple was married when the child was born or even conceived, the husband is automatically presumed the child’s father. The husband, whether the couple is still together or not, does have an opportunity to deny this presumption. To do so, he must file a petition with the court.

A stepfather is in no way biologically related to the child. Rather, he is the spouse of the biological parent. Step parents are not financially obligated to help raise the child unless they go through the proper adoption process.

Many states allow a spouse to obtain custody regardless of whether they are the actual (biological or adoptive) parent. This concept is generally applied to relationships where the parent’s spouse and child have a very close dynamic and consider themselves as parent and child. If the spouse is considered an equitable parent, he may be ordered to pay child support.

Contact Denver Family Attorneys

Whether you’re seeking to establish paternity or you believe you have no paternal obligations towards a child, you need the help of an attorney. At Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton, we are well equipped to handle these types of cases. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact us today. Call us at 303-951-4506 or fill out our online intake form here.