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Divorce: Dealing with Paternity Issues

Has the question of paternity come up in your divorce case? It’s not unheard of, and, in fact, I’ve dealt with this numerous times in my tenure as a divorce attorney.

Here’s why it matters and what’s at stake if a question of paternity comes up in your divorce case.

Real-Life Example of a Paternity Challenge in Divorce

Years ago, I knew a doctor involved in a case where paternity became a huge issue. The couple had been married for over 20 years and had three children together.

During the divorce process, the wife had a pang of conscience and admitted to the husband that the middle child wasn’t his. By this time, the child was about 11 years old, and the husband had been raising the child as if he was the biological father.

In Colorado, either party has the right to request a paternity determination. During the divorce process, the parties either prepare a Joint Petition, which details the paternity of the children, or there will be a Petition and a Response, where the parties again address the paternity of the children. If there is no issue as to paternity in the final divorce agreement and/or judicial ruling and it is later determined that you are not the father, you will still be bound by the judicial admission. This is why it’s important to request the test if there is any doubt.

In the example above, the husband did request a paternity test, and it was confirmed that the middle child was not his.

Aside from the heartache they all must have felt, the father had a choice to make: would he ignore the results of the paternity test and continue to raise the boy as his own (including paying child support for the kid), or would he claim the child wasn’t his and, therefore, avoid financial responsibility for him.

I think most people would likely continue to raise the child and pay the child support. In this case, that’s exactly what the husband chose to do. In hindsight, I have wondered if maybe everyone involved would have been better off if the mother had kept her secret to herself.

Paternity, Child Support, and Parenting Time in Divorce

Issues around children are some of the most complicated aspects of divorce. If you’re going through a divorce — or preparing to go through a divorce — call our office today at 303-449-1873 for a complimentary consultation and we’ll discuss your options.

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