Unless you are in a marriage with your child’s mother or establish legal paternity in Colorado, you lack basic rights to a child you believe you fathered. In other words, you have no ability to pursue visitation or custody in the absence of a paternity finding. On the flip side, if you know who your child’s father is but he or she disputes your assertion, you must establish paternity to seek child support from this person.
How do you go about establishing paternity in Colorado? Per the Colorado Office of Economic Security’s Division of Child Support Services, there are two ways to establish legal paternity in the state.
Signing an acknowledgment of paternity
The first way involves having both parents sign an acknowledgment of paternity. This often occurs shortly after the child’s birth, and before anyone leaves the hospital. It does not have to happen at the hospital, though. You may sign the document at any point before the child turns 18 (or, in rare cases, 21). Once you both sign the acknowledgment, it becomes a “Legal Finding of Paternity” 60 days later.
Securing a court order
In the absence of an acknowledgment of paternity, you have the option of establishing it through a court order. A judge has the capacity to enter an order of paternity. If you wish to do so without going to court, you may be able to do so through the Child Support Enforcement Unit in your county.
Understanding the benefits
Establishing paternity is good for your child because it may help him or her develop a stronger sense of identity. It may also give him or her critical information about medical history, and it may, too, grant your son or daughter inheritance rights, among other benefits.
Find out more about establishing paternity in Colorado on our webpage.