Who is a Putative Father?
Putative fathers are defined differently in various states across the US. Some states for example, have no definition of the term at all, while others use equivalent terms to describe the same thing. In Colorado, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if any of the following circumstances hold true:
- He's mentioned as the father on the child's birth certificate with his approval
- He is required to support the child - even voluntary agreements count
- He has lived with the child and has publicly declared his paternity
- He has acknowledged that he is the father in writing
Rights of Putative Fathers
Historically, putative fathers have had less rights granted to them by courts. The Supreme Court has however, upheld the rights of putative fathers under the weight of the "Equal protection" clause of the 14th amendment. However, states and individual courts still have substantial jurisdiction in the rights that are allowed to putative fathers.
One aspect where the issue of rights comes up is when the mother seeks termination of this relationship for one reason or the other. In cases of adoption for example, it's necessary to legally terminate all other rights before the procedure can be completed. In these cases, the courts must ascertain who the father is by asking the mother and anyone else concerned. The putative father receives notice of termination of paternity and must file an answer within 30 days.
Colorado does not however, have a putative father registry.
Focus on Child's wellbeing
In Colorado, the sole criterion that determines the decision taken by the court is the wellbeing of the child. This is even reflected in the language of the statutes which talks in terms of parental responsibilities rather than parental rights.
Rescinding Claim of Paternity
Finally, a person who has filed a paternity claim can send a notice that revokes this claim. This notice is time bound and must take place within 60 days of notice of paternity. Colorado is one of only seven states that requires a court procedure to revoke a claim of paternity.