More and more couples in Colorado are living together before marriage. Perhaps some decided to move in together not only to save on rent and utilities, but also to determine if their relationship will work.

Many of these couples did not get married after cohabitation, but still had a child together. This is one reason why that there has been a rapid increase in the number of children with unmarried parents. This fact also highlights how important unmarried fathers are to these children. Many of these fathers, who are often referred to as alleged, presumed and putative fathers, seek recognition of their rights and roles in their children's lives.

In years past, unmarried fathers have had fewer rights than married parents or even unwed mothers. Due to this, when an unwed mother put a child up for adoption, the presumed father often had little opportunity to effectively contest the mother's decision. For this reason, many unmarried fathers have contested the termination of their parental rights. They have challenged the constitutionality of cases where a mother gives up their child for adoption. A number of challenges in cases like this were filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in order to protect the rights of the fathers.

Eventually, the Supreme Court affirmed that an unmarried fathers' rights are constitutionally protected from termination in adoption cases. However, that constitutional protection can only be attained if the father establishes his legal relationship to the child. The Supreme Court believes that the existence of the biological link between an unmarried father and his child allows the creation of a substantial relationship by means of paternity. The court stated that when paternity is established, the father thus has the potential to commit to the parental responsibilities concerning the child. This gives unmarried fathers the right to child upbringing, parenting time and child support, although the specifics for how these rights are established vary by state.

Source: Childwelfare.gov, "The rights of unmarried fathers," accessed Aug. 18, 2014

Source: Childwelfare.gov, "The rights of unmarried fathers," accessed Aug. 18, 2014