Practice Area: Adoption & Custody

 

Custody Modification

If a decree allocating decision-making has been filed with the court, there is usually a two year wait period before a subsequent modification may be filed. There are certain circumstances where the wait period is not required; for instance, if the court decides continuing the order may be harmful to the child. The prior decree will not be modified unless new facts have arisen or were unknown to the court at that time or, some change in circumstances has occurred making modification is necessary to serve the child’s best interests. The court will not change the prior order unless the above requirements are met or the court finds for instance, the parties agree to the modification.

~ Taken in part from Colorado Revised Statute § 14-10-131 (2007).

Adoption (step-parent & kinship)

Many step-parents consider adopting their step-children. Some courts prefer the biological parent and the step-parent be married for at least one year before the step-parent adopts the children. A step-parent who wishes to adopt his or her step-children in Colorado must live in Colorado and be over the age of 21, unless the court approves otherwise. The parent is required to file his or her consent to the adoption with the court.

A child under 18 years old is available for adoption if a court has terminated the legal relationship of the other parent or a court has approved his or her voluntary relinquishment of the parent-child relationship. If the child is between 18 and 21, the court must approve the adoption. If the child is 13 or older, the child is required to consent to the adoption as well.

If the parent-child relationship has not been terminated or relinquished, the custodial birth parent must provide an affidavit or testimony that the other parent has abandoned the child for at least one year or, has failed without cause, to provide reasonable support. The prospective adoptive parent must complete a background check and inform the court if they have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving any of the following:

  • child abuse or neglect
  • spousal abuse
  • any crime against a child
  • any crime related to domestic violence
  • violation of a protection/restraining order
  • crime involving violence, rape, sexual assault, or homicide
  • felony involving physical assault or battery
  • felony involving drugs within the past five years

A person convicted of a felony involving child abuse, violence, or unlawful sexual behavior will not be allowed to adopt the child. If the background check reveals a felony or misdemeanor conviction, the court will review the conviction and determine if the child may be adopted. A child who is involved in a pending dependency and neglect proceeding is not available for adoption.

The adoption will dissolve the legal relationship between the other birth parent and his or her family, and the biological child. A new birth certificate will be issued and will reflect the former step-parent as the child’s birth parent.

Many of the requirements of step-parent adoption are also required in a kinship adoption. Kinship means either of the following: grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, or cousin. If the parents are deceased, a court-appointed guardian must give consent to the adoption unless written and verified consent has been signed by the parents. The child must have lived with the prospective adoptive parents for at least one year.

~The information above was taken in part from www.courts.state.co.us