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How Is Paternity Determined?

Has an encounter with someone in your past led to issues of paternity? This can be a frightening experience for anyone, especially if it is completely unexpected. And if either of you have doubts about the paternity, the situation is even more stressful.

The good news is there are legal guidelines in place to protect you from obligations if it is determined that a man is not the child’s father or if he is the child’s father and refuses to acknowledge his paternity. Both parties have a right to verify paternity of the child before being obligated to pay child support. It is a complicated situation, so working with an experienced attorney is essential. He or she will begin by reviewing C.R.S. § 19-4-105 with you.

According to C.R.S. § 19-4-105, a man is presumed to be a child’s father if:

(a) He and the child's natural mother are or have been married to each other and the child is born during the marriage, within three hundred days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity of marriage, dissolution of marriage, or divorce, or after a decree of legal separation is entered by a court;

(b) Before the child's birth, he and the child's natural mother have attempted to marry each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and: (I) If the attempted marriage could be declared invalid only by a court, the child is born during the attempted marriage or within three hundred days after its termination by death, annulment, declaration of invalidity of marriage, dissolution of marriage, or divorce; or (II) If the attempted marriage is invalid without a court order, the child is born within three hundred days after the termination of cohabitation;

(c) After the child's birth, he and the child's natural mother have married, or attempted to marry, each other by a marriage solemnized in apparent compliance with law, although the attempted marriage is or could be declared invalid, and he acknowledged paternity in writing filed with the court, was named on the birth certificate with his permission, or is obligated to support the child by court order.

(d) While the child is under the age of majority, he receives the child into his home and openly holds out the child as his natural child;

(e) He acknowledges his paternity of the child in a writing filed with the court or registrar of vital statistics, which shall promptly inform the mother of the filing of the acknowledgment, and she does not dispute the acknowledgment within a reasonable time after being informed thereof, in a writing filed with the court or registrar of vital statistics, if such acknowledgment has not previously become a legal finding pursuant to paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of this section. If another man is presumed under this section to be the child's father, acknowledgment may be affected only with the written consent of the presumed father or after the presumption has been rebutted.

(f) The genetic tests or other tests of inherited characteristics have been administered as provided in section 13-25-126, C.R.S., and the results show that the alleged father is not excluded as the probable father and that the probability of his parentage is ninety-seven percent or higher.

Genetic Testing

As most people know, medical testing can help a potential father prove or disprove relation to a child. C.R.S. § 13-25-126 addresses genetic testing. It states:

(1)(a)(I) In any action, suit, or proceeding in which the parentage of a child is at issue, including but not limited to actions or proceedings pursuant to section 14-10-122 (6) or 19-4-107.3, C.R.S., upon motion of the court or any of the interested parties, the court shall order the alleged mother, the child or children, and the alleged father to submit to genetic testing and other appropriate testing of inherited characteristics, including but not limited to blood and tissue type, for the purpose of determining probability of parentage. If a party refuses to submit to these tests, the court may resolve the question of parentage against the party to enforce its order if the rights of others and the interests of justice so require.

It is important to realize that even genetic testing does not absolutely disprove paternity. The law considers a probable paternity result of 97% or more in order to require legal and financial responsibility for a child. If a paternity test shows a probable relation to a child, your paternity battle might turn from one related to guarding your finances to fighting for your right to play a role in your child’s life.

If you have reason to believe you might be the parent of a child, you have been accused of being a parent and believe you are not, you need legal protection, or your child’s father refuses to acknowledge his paternity and pay child support, then we can help. Contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.

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