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Colorado Custody Rights for Unmarried Fathers

Posted by Marie Drake | Jun 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

When an infant is born to unwed parents in Colorado, the mother is granted full legal and physical custody of the child. The father has no custody or visitation rights without a court order unless the parties have an agreement. A legal parent-child relationship is not immediately established by the birth of a child.  

When domestic roles were more conventional, the mother was often the primary caregiver and attachment figure for the infant. As a result of this historical bias, courts would more often grant physical custody, now called parenting responsibilities in Colorado, to mothers. These days there is a presumption of 50-50 parenting time, and single fathers can more readily obtain parenting time and have a say in decision making, regarding their children.

Parenting Time and Decision-Making in Colorado:

Colorado law states fathers should have the same legal rights as mothers. When deciding on child custody, the best interests of the child are paramount and Colorado courts decide custody cases based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Why is it necessary to prove paternity in Colorado?

A father who is not married is not automatically considered a legal father. Since paternity has not been confirmed, they are not always believed to be biologically related to their child. Enforcing parental rights and responsibilities can become more difficult for single fathers due to the lack of a valid marriage. Even if his name appears on the child's birth certificate, a father must take legal action to prove paternity.

Once paternity is established, an unmarried man is legally recognized as the child's parent. As a result, he is a stronger legal position to seek more parenting time.  

In Colorado, how do I prove paternity?

Making sure your name is on the baby's birth certificate is the most basic way to begin to establish paternity. The simplest method is to be present at the hospital when the mother gives birth and assist her in filling out the birth certificate forms.  Otherwise, you will need to file a Petition for Paternity and go through the legal process to obtain a Final Order for Paternity.

In Colorado, how do I get custody rights?

After paternity has been established, you have the same right to parent your children as a married father.  Establishing your rights to parent your child or children through an agreement approved by the Court is preferable if both you and your child's mother are in agreement.  Otherwise, you will have to file a Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities and go through the process of having a Court issue orders regarding parenting time and decision making.

Consult our family law attorneys at The Drake Law Firm, PC to begin your paternity proceedings and secure your legal rights as a father. 

Contact us today at 303-261-8111.

About the Author

Marie Drake

Marie is a graduate of Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College, a member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, a member of the Board of Trustees of the First Judicial Bar Association, a member of the Colorado Bar Association, the Denver Bar Association, the Colorado Women's Bar Association, The...


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