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Understanding the establishment of paternity and child support

Colorado fathers may be interested in state laws and guidelines regarding paternity and how it is established. The effects of determining paternity, including responsibilities for child support, can benefit the child greatly in many cases.

When a child is born to unmarried parents, it has no legal father. This legal fatherhood is known as paternity, and is established either through the courts, by the local Child Support Enforcement Unit or through both parents signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity either at the time of birth or afterwards. Once paternity has been legally established, the child is able to access both health care and survivor's benefits through the father. The father may also be liable for child support after the confirmation of paternity.

This paternity action may be brought by either parent before the child turns 18. Some situations allow paternity actions up until the child is 21. After a successful paternity action, the CSE Unit will begin working with the parents to develop an order for child support. This will set an amount of money to be paid each month to the custodial parent by the other. In cases where the child is in foster care, both parents may be liable for child support payments to the foster parents. The amount of child support to be paid is determined by Colorado's statutory child support guidelines, which look at factors related to the parents' income and the specific financial needs of the child.

Establishing paternity in order to allow a father to take part in their child's life can be complicated and difficult without help. An attorney with experience in family law matters may be able to assist a biological father in bringing a paternity action.

Source: Colorado Department of Human Services, "Establishing Paternity & Support", August 13, 2014

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