Step-Parent Adoption in Colorado: Preparing for the Process
Considering adopting your step-child? Read our blog to prepare for the process.
There is no such thing as a “traditional family dynamic” any longer. Many types of families exist. They include combined families, single-parent households, step-parents, and two-parent households, for example.
In some cases, a step-parent may fulfill a stronger and more important role than a birth parent. Sometimes, this is in the best interest of the child. It shows that the step-parent loved the child and is serious about providing for them. However, adoption is not as simple as heading to the courthouse and signing a few papers. It’s important to have a strong understanding of what needs to be done.
What You Need to Know About the Adoption
Before a potential step-parent can file for adoption in Colorado, you need to meet certain requirements. For starters, they need to be married to the custodial parent. If the other parent is considered the custodial parent, you are not allowed to file for adoption. Additionally, you need to be at least 21 years old.
Mother’s and father’s rights are respected in Colorado and parents have a constitutional right to the care and control of their children. Before a step-parent adopts a child, the noncustodial parent-child relationship must be terminated completely–this is a high threshold for the Court.
Therefore, the step-parent adoption will be much easier if you have voluntary consent from the noncustodial birth parent before filing. The only time you would not need their consent would be if there are legal grounds that would involuntarily terminate the parental rights.
These might include instances where the birth parent has abandoned the child for a year or more, for example. It would also include times when a birth parent has been unable to provide reasonable support for a year or more without cause, and they are not likely to pay support in the future. In cases where the other parent is deceased, adoption by a step-parent can proceed.
Additionally, the courts will need to determine the best interests of the children. They will look at things like family stability, the emotional ties the child has with the parties involved, the current and future effects of adoption, changes to the living situation, the age of the child, and more. Essentially, the step-parent needs to prove that the adoption will be best for the child.
Not Everyone Can Adopt
Naturally, anyone who wants to adopt needs to undergo background checks. Step-parents will need to have a state and federal fingerprint check and will need to have a TRAILS background check through the Department of Human Services.
The courts want to ensure a safe environment for the child. Anyone who has been convicted of a felony that involved child abuse, a crime of violence, or a felony offense involving unlawful sexual behavior is not allowed to adopt a child.
As you may expect, a lot of paperwork may need to be completed during the process. The initial pleadings alone include:
- JDF 502 Petition for Adoption
- JDF 454 Verified Statement of Fees Charged
- JDF 509 Consent to Adoption – Custodial Parent
- JDF 511 Consent to Adoption – Child Over 12 Years of Age
- JDF 514 Notice of Hearing
- JDF 520 Petition to Terminate the Parent-Child Legal Relationship
- JDF 510 Consent to Adoption – Non-Custodial Parent
- JDF 507 Waiver and Acceptance of Service
You will need to fill out the paperwork and provide it to the courts along with the filing fee. Those who do not feel they can make the payment should fill out forms JDF 205 Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit and JDF 206 Finding and Order Concerning Parent Fees. These forms will allow you to request a waiver for the filing fee.
After the Paperwork
Even after the paperwork is filed, you will have to be ready for the termination hearing and the adoption hearing. You will get a notice from the court about the date and time of the hearing if you didn’t already set up the date when providing the paperwork.
Make sure you are early and have all of the materials needed, such as completed paperwork, exhibits, and other evidence. This is not always needed, of course. It varies from case to case. Be sure you have extra copies of everything, so you can give them to the respondent and the judge. Show up early to the hearing and make sure you keep your cell phone off.
Get Help from the Experts
Step-parent adoption is not as straightforward as you might hope-especially without the consent of the noncustodial parent. There is a lot of paperwork to handle and certain requirements that need to be met. You also have to consider going into your hearing and standing before the court. This can be nerve-wracking, so get some guidance from an attorney who knows and understands the law.
Contact Colorado Legal Group today, so they can start helping you with the adoption process. They can also help those in Colorado with legal separation, help with divorce, custody, and other family matters.