More and more unmarried parents welcome children every year, putting paternity issues at the forefront for many mothers and fathers in Colorado. Though you may not have immediate concerns about establishing parentage, there are some considerations to keep in mind for the future. A Fort Collins paternity lawyer can tell you more about why it’s critical to obtain legal proof of parentage, but some important information may help.
From the Mother’s Perspective
The three top reasons a mother may want to establish parentage may include:
- Child Support: Raising a child is not cheap, and Colorado law on child support imposes a duty for both parents to contribute financially. If you want to seek child support from the child’s father, you must first have an order establishing paternity.
- Get the Father Involved: Like many mothers, you recognize the critical role a father can play in your child’s development. While you may not get along with the other parent, you may want to establish paternity to open the door to a healthy parent-child relationship.
- Social Security Benefits: Even when the father voluntarily provides financial support, your child has no rights to certain benefits unless you have official, legal parentage. Social Security offers a death benefit for minor children, which provides funds on a monthly basis until they turn 18 years old. Under certain circumstances, your child may also qualify for disability benefits or amounts based upon the father’s military service.
Fathers and Paternity
Fathers also have rights, but you cannot enforce them unless you are recognized by law through establishing parentage.
- Child Custody: Colorado law uses the term “parental responsibilities” to refer to what’s commonly called custody. As a father, you have the right to participate in major decisions regarding your child’s upbringing, such as education, religion, and extracurricular activities. Unless you are the legal father through a VAP or paternity lawsuit, you have no say in these issues.
- Visitation Rights: Parenting time is important to forming a solid relationship with your child, so it’s understandable that you want to exercise visitation rights. Even if the mother voluntarily allows you to spend time with the child, you must establish paternity before you have the legal right to visitation.
- Child Support: You may be fully willing to contribute to your child’s financial needs, but you’re in a tough spot if you don’t believe the mother’s assertion that you’re the father. In such a situation, you’d want to have a court make a determination on paternity to protect your own financial interests.
Contact Fort Collins, CO Paternity Lawyers Regarding Parentage Issues
If you have questions about the importance of establishing paternity on either side of the issue, please contact our team at Divorce Matters. We can review your circumstances and advise you on options to seek parentage as the mother or father. Our paternity attorneys can also explain how to handle a situation where you don’t believe you’re the child’s parent. Our lawyers represent clients in Fort Collins, Larimer County, and throughout Central Colorado, and we’re happy to help.