Colorado Custody Laws For Unmarried Parents

October 19, 2021

Colorado Custody Laws For Unmarried Parents

In Colorado, issues between unmarried parents are handled similarly to how custody battles between married parents are handled. In today's society, there are many unwed couples who share children - almost as many as married couples with children. When parents are not married, issues such as childcare and custody become even more important as the law is not always easy to understand. For those curious about Colorado custody laws for unmarried parents, consider reaching out to Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or text (720)730-4558.

Paternity Must Be Established in Custody Issues

For a father to have rights and be involved in his children's lives, paternity must be established; it is not enough to claim fatherhood. The process of establishing parental rights is easy if the birth certificate of any children is signed by the father. If this is not the case, there are two ways that paternity may be established.

  • Voluntarily, when both parents sign a Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity form and agree the father is the children's. This form basically establishes the father as the legal father of the child; his name is added to the birth certificate of the child.
  • Paternity test. When parents do not agree on paternity, it must be established through a paternity test ordered by the court. In most cases a judge requires this test of the alleged father before deciding on any rights or responsibilities regarding the child.

Why Establishing Paternity is Important

Establishing paternity is important for not only the father of the child, but the mother as well. Unmarried parents may not be eligible for certain benefits if paternity is not established. A biological father may want parenting time or to gain custody of his child; the mother cannot collect child support if paternity is not established.

  • Child support and benefits. A biological father is not required to pay child support if paternity is not established in the state of Colorado. On the other hand, when a father who has established paternity is not given custody of his child, he must pay child support as required by law. The child support program in Colorado is operated at the county level according to the Colorado Judicial Branch. Child support and other benefits protect the children first and foremost and support their wellbeing. A father may have insurance or health care benefits through his employer; without proving paternity, any children may not be eligible for these important benefits.
  • Child custody and parenting time. A father cannot seek custody or visitation rights without establishing paternity. When unmarried parents decide to go their separate ways, a father may want to continue being part of his child's life. In some situations involving unmarried parents with children, a child's guardian (usually the mother) attempts to keep the child away from the father. By establishing paternity, a father has legal rights such as parenting time and may seek custody if the child's mother becomes disabled or passes away.

Paternity Action Cases

While the alleged father of the child can submit a paternity action to the court, there are others who may do so under Colorado law. These include:

  • The mother of the child
  • A child older than 18 years of age
  • A child younger than 18 with assistance of personal representative
  • Legal representative for any person (minor, deceased, or incarcerated) who is allowed to bring a paternity action
  • Social services county department
  • The Colorado Department of Human Resources

Children who request a paternity action may do so at any time until they reach the age of 21 according to the Colorado Judicial Branch. Those with questions concerning paternity action may want to consider speaking to a family law attorney at Johnson Law Group.

Mother's Rights in Colorado

Whether married or not, mothers have certain rights that protect the well-being and interests of minor children. For parents who are not married, a mother has the same rights as one who goes through divorce. Some of these include:

  • Custody. In general, the mother of a child usually gains custody, but this is not always the case. Custody is awarded to the parent deemed most capable of raising the child. Decisions are always made according to what is in the best interest of the child or children.
  • Visitation. Mothers who are not awarded custody are entitled to parenting time in most cases. This is important to the health and development of the child.
  • Child support. A mother has the right to collect child support from the father of the child once paternity is established. Child support provides financial assistance so that mothers and their children can sustain life.

Colorado Treats Divorced and Unmarried Parents the Same

Colorado custody laws for unmarried parents are the same as those that govern parents who are divorced. Parents who do not marry often feel confused and uncertain about their rights regarding minor children when they part ways or cannot get along. The only real difference is that in situations where parents are not married, the father may have to establish paternity in order to take legal action in matters involving parenting time, custody, etc. It may ease the minds of both mothers and fathers who share children to know that custody laws are basically the same whether ever married or not.

Consider Scheduling a Consultation with Johnson Law Group

Parents want their children to feel loved and supported, regardless of marriage status. When a couple cannot resolve their differences and decide to go their separate ways, it affects everyone in the family – including children. Colorado custody laws for unmarried parents do not differ from those in circumstances where parents divorce.

The bottom line is that the laws are designed to protect the well-being and interest of the children, no matter the circumstances surrounding their parents. Child custody, visitation, and other issues can be difficult to sort out when parents are at odds, emotional, and concerned about their children. At Johnson Law Group our family law attorneys provide legal support and guidance for those going through trying times. You are invited to reach out to us at (720) 463-4333 or text (720)-730-4558.

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