In Colorado, either parent may file a petition to establish a paternity (or maternity).  This type of case is filed in the juvenile court of the county where the child lives.  The parents may agree they are the parents, but either parent may ask for a DNA test.  Once the court enters an order on the issue either by agreement, pursuant to the results of a DNA test or if either of the parents do not participate in the hearing, paternity is determined.  The court will then have the authority to enter orders on:

  1. Parenting time
  2. Decision making. 
  3. Child support 
  4. Modification of the birth certificate. 

Upon request, the Court Child Support Enforcement (CSE) will bring the paternity case to establish paternity and child support.  They will not help the parents with the other issues.  The parents either have to reach an agreement themselves or work with lawyers and other professionals to create the Parenting Plan.

Establishing paternity is essential even if the parents get along. It sets a structure for the important legal issues relating to the child that the parents must follow if they cannot agree to modifications.  Having settled the issue of paternity is helpful in case of the death of either party, so that the child will continue to have a relationship with the remaining parent. 

Paternity cases allow child support to begin at birth (no matter when the case is filed) and allow the court to order the father to pay part of the birth expenses.  The alternative to a Paternity case, is the Allocation of Parental Responsibilities case.   Child support in that type of case can only be ordered back to the date that the case begins. 

Paternity cases are often difficult because the parties may  not have had a long term relationship with each other before the baby comes.  These cases are particularly suited to Collaborative Law because the parties can work with a child specialist and communication coaches to understand what their child needs at each stage of life.  They can also learn to communicate in a way that does not cause anxiety for their child.  Improved communication helps them make good decisions for the future of their child.