Stepparent adoption is one of Colorado’s most common forms of adoption. Because stepparent adoption is often considered the best, most secure situation for a child who has a parent/child relationship with the stepparent, Colorado courts may simplify the requirements inherent in other forms of adoption.
Before a stepparent is eligible to file for adoption in Colorado, he or she must meet several basic requirements.
The adopting stepparent must:
- Have been a Colorado resident for at least six months
- Be over the age of 21 years
- Be able to successfully pass several background checks
Adoptive stepparents face four steps in securing the legal rights of parenthood.
The steps include the following:
- Filing a petition for adoption with Colorado courts
- Filing by the adoptive stepparent’s spouse (custodial parent) showing approval of the adoption
- Gaining the consent of the child if he or she is over the age of 12 years
- Filing the non-custodial parent’s consent to the adoption.
- If the non-custodial parent’s consent cannot be obtained, showing that the non-custodial parent has abandoned the child for one year or more and/ or has failed to provide reasonable support for the child, without cause.
Typically, the one area where problems arise is step four: gaining the consent of the non-custodial parent. Even for the most unsupportive biological parent, giving consent for the adoption of a child can be a difficult step. Inherent in their consent is relinquishment of all parental rights.
If a biological parent balks at giving consent for the adoption, the custodial parent and stepparent can file a petition with the court to terminate all parental rights of the noncustodial parent. In this case, the stepparent and spouse will have to prove either abandonment or failure to provide support for a period of at least a year. If a biological parent has visited even occasionally or provided minimal support during that time, it can derail the adoption.
However, if a parent has not provided the required support, he or she will have few avenues of escape. Colorado courts require parents to pay some level of support even if they are unemployed, disabled or incarcerated..
Once the process is complete and the stepparent adoption is finalized, the child will receive a new birth certificate with his or her new name, listing the stepparent as a parent. At that time, the adoptive parent will assume all the legal rights of parenthood and the child will have the same inheritance rights as the stepparent’s natural heirs.
If you are beginning the process of adopting a stepson or stepdaughter in Colorado, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Robinson & Henry. Our attorneys understand the challenges you face at this important juncture. We will be your strong and capable allies, helping you achieve your objective as quickly and amicably as possible. Call 303-688-0944 for your initial consultation.