When it comes to child support, establishing paternity is a crucial step in ensuring that both parents are responsible for financially supporting their child. In Denver, Colorado, the process of establishing paternity can be complex and overwhelming, but it is essential for the well-being of the child.What is Paternity? Paternity refers to the legal recognition of a man as the father of a child. This is important because it establishes the rights and responsibilities of both parents towards their child. In Denver, Colorado, paternity can be established in two ways – through voluntary acknowledgment or through a court order.
Voluntary AcknowledgmentThe easiest and most common way to establish paternity in Denver is through voluntary acknowledgment.
This process involves both parents signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity (AOP) form, which is then filed with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The AOP form can be signed at the hospital after the child's birth or at any time after that. Both parents must sign the form in front of a notary public or a witness who is not related to either parent. Once the form is filed with CDPHE, it becomes a legal document, and the father's name will be added to the child's birth certificate.
Court OrderIf one parent refuses to sign the AOP form or if there is a dispute over paternity, then the other parent can file a petition with the court to establish paternity.
The court will then order genetic testing to determine if the alleged father is indeed the biological father of the child. In Denver, genetic testing can be done through CDPHE or through a private laboratory. The results of the test are admissible in court and can establish paternity with a 99% accuracy rate.
Why is Establishing Paternity Important for Child Support?Establishing paternity is crucial for child support purposes because it determines the financial responsibility of both parents towards their child. Once paternity is established, the court can order child support payments from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.
In Denver, child support is calculated based on the income of both parents and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. The court will also consider any special needs of the child, such as medical expenses or educational costs. Without establishing paternity, the custodial parent may not be able to receive child support payments from the non-custodial parent. This can put a financial strain on the custodial parent and negatively impact the child's well-being.
The Role of Child Support ServicesIn Denver, the Child Support Services (CSS) division of the Department of Human Services is responsible for enforcing child support orders. CSS can assist in establishing paternity by providing genetic testing services and helping parents complete the AOP form.
If a parent fails to pay child support, CSS can take legal action to enforce the court-ordered payments. This can include wage garnishment, intercepting tax refunds, or suspending driver's licenses or professional licenses.
Challenges in Establishing PaternityWhile establishing paternity is essential for child support purposes, there can be challenges in the process. In some cases, one parent may refuse to acknowledge paternity, leading to a lengthy court battle. In other cases, there may be multiple potential fathers, making it difficult to determine who is responsible for child support. Additionally, if the alleged father is not present in the child's life, it can be challenging to locate them for genetic testing or to enforce child support payments.
In these situations, CSS can work with other agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration, to locate the non-custodial parent.