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How is paternity established in Colorado?

Determining the identity of a child's father is important for a number of reasons. Children need a sense of identity, and knowing who their parents are is important to their emotional well-being. It is also important to know who a child's father is for medical reasons, because the child may have inherited some medical issues from the father. The child may also be eligible for health insurance through the father's employer. Paternity will also establish the child's right to inherit from the father upon his death.

In addition, once paternity is established the mother may be able to collect child support from the father. For many unmarried mothers, monthly child support is essential for the child's everyday expenses and medical needs.

When a child is born to married parents, paternity by the husband is automatically established under Colorado law. When the parents are unmarried, there are two basic options to establish paternity. The simplest way is for the parents to sign a legal document acknowledging paternity.

If the man alleged to be the father denies paternity, the mother can file a legal action and request a determination of paternity. DNA testing is then done to determine whether the man is the child's father. If the man refuses to submit to DNA testing or continues to deny paternity after testing, the mother can request a court hearing and a judge will decide the issue. In that event a refusal to submit to DNA testing can be taken into consideration by the judge, who may conclude the refusal indicates a likelihood of paternity.

Source: Adams County, Colorado, "Establishing Paternity," accessed April 21, 2015

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