Legal paternity gives fathers the rights and responsibilities of caring for a child. Establishing legal paternity gives a child a legal father. If legal paternity is not established, a man has no responsibility to support the child.
Presumption of Paternity
Without a presumption of paternity, every child's parentage would be in dispute. For this reason, Colorado presumes a man to be the natural father of a child under certain circumstances. These include circumstances where (1) a man and the child's mother are married and the child is born during the marriage or within 300 days after the termination of the marriage, (2) the man and the mother attempted to marry, though the attempted marriage is invalid, and the child is born within 300 days after the termination of cohabitation, (3) after the child's birth, the man and the mother married, or attempted to marry, and the man acknowledges his paternity, (4) the man receives the child into his home and holds the child out as his own, (5) the man acknowledges his paternity in a writing filed with the court, and (6) admissible genetic tests show that the man is the father. Once paternity is presumed, that man is the legal father until a court establishes that another man is the legal father.
Rebutting the Presumption of Paternity
This presumption of paternity may be rebutted only by clear and convincing evidence. If another man contests the presumed father's paternity, a court will consider all relevant factors in deciding who the legal father should be, including (1) the length of time between the proceeding to determine parentage and the time that the presumed father was placed on notice that he might not be the genetic father, (2) the length of time during which the presumed father has assumed the role of father of the child, (3) the facts surrounding the presumed father's discovery of his possible nonpaternity, (4) the nature of the father-child relationship, (5) the age of the child, (6) the relationship of the child to any presumed father or fathers, (7) the extent to which passage of time reduces the chances of establishing the paternity of another man and a child support obligation in favor of the child, and (8) any other factors that disrupt the father-child relationship or otherwise harm the child.
When can Paternity be Established?
In Colorado, a paternity action can be started anytime before the child reaches the age of 18, and in some circumstances, up to age 21.