What to Expect (Legally) When You Are Expecting…
We will often talk with clients who are expecting a child in the near future, but the relationship between both parents has deteriorated to the point of being officially separated. Many clients will come in and ask what their rights are as a parents and how to best prepare legally for their new bundle of joy. Many parents are scared that they will not have enough time with the newborn, while others are worried that they will be given too much time since they do not feel prepared enough.
All of these questions can be settled with something called an APR, or an Allocation of Parental Responsibilities.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities in Colorado
The APR will lay out the 'rules of engagement', so to speak, for both parents in three major categories; parenting time, child support, and decision making.
Parenting time is exactly what it sounds like. It is the amount of time that each parent will have with the kiddo. Based off of the amount of parenting time (also referred to as “visitation”) and the income of both parties, child support will then be decided. Finally, decision making lays out who will be the responsible party for making the major decisions in the kiddo's life. That could be anything from which doctor the kiddo is going to have as their primary physician, or how the child will be raised religiously.
APRs can also be modified after a certain amount of time to allow for typical life changes such as a new job, a new house, kiddo is in a new school, etc. This is important information for many of our clients that are new parents. Knowing that an APR is modifiable will often reduce the stress of a parent-to-be since they know that they are not necessarily setting up the 'rules of engagement' for the next 18 years, but rather for maybe the next 2 years; at which point they can modify the APR to properly reflect any change in circumstances.
If you are the father of the unborn baby, your first question will be whether or not mother intends to add you to the birth certificate. If she does not add you to the birth certificate, then you are not legally considered the father and you will not have any parental rights, but you will also not have any obligations (i.e. child support). If you are on the birth certificate, then it will be assumed that you are the father and you will be able to exercise your rights as a parent as well as potentially being held liable for child support. If you believe that you have been added or excluded from the birth certificate in error, then you may want to take a DNA test to confirm paternity.
If you are the mother of the unborn baby, you will want to start thinking about whether or not you will add your ex-significant other to the birth certificate for all the same reasons listed above.
There are many variables not mentioned here that could affect the outcome of your APR and / or paternity case such as addiction, willingness or ability to provide a safe and healthy growth environment for the child, or special needs of the child. If you are facing an APR or would like to file one in Colorado and need guidance regarding co-parenting after splitting up, please request a consultation with the legal experts at The Harris Law Firm.
Call (303) 622-5502 or contact us online to request a consultation.