Denver Adoption Attorney
Adoption is the legal process of terminating a birth parent’s rights and permanently granting them to the adoptive parent(s), who now assume all the rights and responsibilities of the child. In instances of step-parent, kinship, and custodial adoptions, court interaction and the filing of a case is required. With these cases comes a great amount of detail, both procedural and substantive in nature.
Having a Denver family law attorney that understands adoption proceedings matters when it comes time to take the significant step of legally becoming a parent to a child. The Denver adoption attorneys at Plog & Stein, P.C. are proud to help front range families with their adoption cases. Let us help you!
Adoption Laws in Colorado
- Who can adopt? C.R.S. 19-5-202 states that any person who is 21 or older may file for Adoption with the Courts. Factors such as the nature of your relationship to the child and duration of physical custody will determine what kind of adoption case to file (kinship, custodial, or step-parent adoption).
- Who can be adopted? Pursuant to C.R.S. 19-5-203, for an adoption to occur a child must be found to qualify as legally “available” for adoption. The child must be under the age of 18 and reside in the state. In addition, one of the following must have occurred:
- a) The legal termination of the parent-child relationship;
- b) Legal and voluntary relinquishment by a parent;
- c) Biological parents are deceased and guardian consents;
- d) One biological parent is deceased and the other parent consents to a step-parent adoption;
- e) Upon a finding that a biological parent has abandoned the child for a period of more than 1 year; OR
- f) Upon a finding that a biological parent has failed without cause to provide reasonable support for the child for a period of more than 1 year.
Adoptions can be contested or uncontested. Should the other parent in an abandonment or failure to pay support scenario object, he or she has the right to challenge the legal proceedings. In these instances, a contested court hearing may be required to be tied into the termination of that parent’s rights. An adoption cannot be filed if the child is the subject of a pending dependency and neglect case. At Plog & Stein P.C., we are equipped to represent parties on both sides of a contested adoption case. Call us at (303) 781-0322 to request an in-person consultation with a member of our family law team.
What are the Requirements to Adopt a Child in Colorado?
When filing an adoption, a family assessment or home study may be required by the Court. The purpose is to ensure that the child is being placed in a stable home environment. It is possible to ask the Court to waive this requirement, but the proper paperwork must be filed. The prospective parents must also complete both state and federal background checks, along with a “TRIALS” background check from the Department of Human Services. This must be done within the 90 days prior to filing the adoption case.
Can Felons Adopt in Colorado?
If you or your spouse have a criminal history, speak with your Denver adoptions lawyer. Your ability to qualify as adoptive parents can depend on the nature of the felony, misdemeanor, etc. A criminal history is not necessarily going to preclude a person from being an adoptive parent but could have an impact, depending on the charge.
Requirements to Adopt a Stepchild
Stepparent adoption is one of the most common types of adoption. In this situation, a stepparent becomes the adopted child’s legal parent. The stepparent agrees to be fully responsible for his or her spouse’s child. The noncustodial or birth parents will forfeit his or her legal responsibilities and parental rights when a stepparent adopts a child. The noncustodial or birth parents will also be free from any related legal obligations, including child support. If you are a stepparent wishing to adopt your stepchild, speak with an attorney and find out if you meet all of Colorado’s legal requirements.
- Both your spouse and the child’s noncustodial parent must agree to the adoption unless the noncustodial parent has abandoned the child.
- If the child is old enough to make his or her own decisions (this age varies, but generally ranges from 10 to 14), the child must consent to the adoption.
- You must submit the proper paperwork with the appropriate court in Denver. This may be a family court, surrogacy court or juvenile court.
- You may need to hire family law attorneys if your local court makes this a requirement. You may also be able to represent yourself during the adoption process.
If you meet all the requirements and file the right forms, the courts may schedule a hearing. Many courts waive preliminary hearings for stepparent adoptions. If not, you, your attorney and the stepchild will attend the hearing. The judge or magistrate will ask everyone involved questions, including confirming with a child old enough whether he or she wants the adoption. The judge will then set a date to finalize the adoption. Between the preliminary hearing the finalization, a social worker may visit to ensure everyone is adapting to the adoption. At the finalization hearing, the judge will issue an Adoption Order and/or Certificate. You can use this official document to obtain a new birth certificate for your child.
Retain our experienced attorneys for assistance, advice and support during a stepparent adoption. Our Denver adoption lawyers can make sure you have everything you need for a smooth and efficient process.
Fostering a Child Before Adoption
Foster care adoption (also known as a waiting child adoption) is a common type of adoption in Colorado. Unlike a private agency adoption, foster care adoption goes through a public agency. It is typically less expensive, as the state pays for many related expenses. Although each case is unique, many foster care adoptions involve older children rather than younger ones.
The waiting period to adopt a child you are fostering can range from one to five years depending on the situation. If you wish to become a foster parent in Colorado, contact Denver County’s Department of Human Services to learn more and receive the necessary training. Once you are a foster parent with a child in your home, you may consider adoption. Not all foster children are available for adoption, however. More than half of all children in the foster system plan on ultimately reuniting with their families or birth parents.
If your foster child is available for adoption, you may or may not need to go through an agency to complete the process depending on the child’s age. In general, adopting a foster child under age five requires an agency. The state does not restrict which foster parents may adopt based on any protected class, including ethnicity or religion. You must be at least 21 years old and ready for all the responsibilities that come with adoption. You or your lawyer will need to fill out and file the proper adoption paperwork to initiate the process. You will need to attend a hearing to finalize the adoption. You must also pay the adoption fee, which typically ranges from $1,800 to $3,600. You can receive an adoption credit from the government (and some workplaces) that can more than cover the fees required. Hire Plog & Stein, P.C. to help you with the paperwork and processes involved in foster care adoption in Denver.
Contact Our Experienced Adoption Attorney!
At Plog & Stein P.C., we understand that family is not defined solely by biology, but is built and maintained through love and caring. The ability to adopt a child and legally make them your own is a powerful process. Our Denver family law lawyers are dedicated to your family’s success and ensuring that your legal goals are met. Let us help you! For more information about how our firm can help you with your adoption matter, visit us online to schedule an appointment. We represent clients in Adams County, Arapahoe County, Littleton, Arvada, Boulder, Lakewood, Englewood, and surrounding communities.