Colorado adoptions can be full of long processes and requirements, yet when adopting your stepchild, the process is not always that extensive. Many stepparents fall in love with their stepchildren and wish to adopt them as their own. So how do you adopt your stepchild in Colorado?
To adopt a stepchild in Colorado, the stepparent wishing to adopt must obtain stepchild adoption court forms, often available at the local courthouse, or may be purchased online from a court form service. If the biological parent is contest the adoption, then hiring a lawyer is strongly encouraged.
In Colorado, a stepparent may choose to adopt their stepchild for a number of reasons, including:
- Creating a legal parent-child connection: When a stepparent adopts a child, a legal parent-child relationship is established, providing the stepparent with the same rights and responsibilities as a biological parent.
- Security and stability: Knowing that their stepparent is legally accountable for them and that their connection is recognized by the state can provide a stepchild with a sense of security and stability that comes from adoption.
- Gaining access to benefits: The stepchild may gain access to advantages through adoption, including inheritance, social security, and health insurance.
- Creating a sense of family: Adoption can strengthen a stepfamily and provide the stepparent and stepchild a sense of belonging.
- Simplifying emergency decision-making: In the event of an emergency, an adopted stepchild will have the same authority to make decisions as their parent, including those pertaining to their health.
It’s important to keep in mind that the biological parent must consent to the adoption. If they don’t, the stepparent may be allowed to adopt the child by having the court revoke the parents’ parental rights.
How to Adopt Your Stepchild in Colorado
To adopt your stepchild in Colorado, you can either hire a lawyer, visit your local courthouse and ask if they provide stepchild adoption court form packets, or you can purchase court forms through a service that specializes in stepchild adoption court forms.
Hire an Adoption Lawyer
Considering hiring a family law attorney is a wise choice when adopting a stepchild in Colorado, despite it not being legally required.
The adoption process can still throw unexpected curveballs and require making difficult decisions, so having an experienced lawyer help you with paperwork and court proceedings can be invaluable.
A lawyer can provide guidance in understanding an adoptive parent’s legal rights and obligations, as well as ensuring that the adoption is in the child’s best interest.
Additionally, they can assist if a biological parent contests the adoption, which could call for terminating their parental rights through the court system.
A lawyer can also help the adoptive parents and the child understand any legal implications of the adoption, as well as guide them through any additional legal issues that may arise in the future.
Ultimately, a lawyer is not mandatory for a stepchild adoption in Colorado; however, it can be beneficial to have an attorney to guarantee the process is handled appropriately and that the child’s needs are looked after.
Click here for a board-certified adoption lawyer in Colorado.
Visit Your Local Courthouse
Those hoping to adopt their stepchild in Colorado should consult the local courthouse for guidance on the adoption process, including obtaining a court form packet tailored to stepparent adoptions.
This packet contains all of the forms and instructions needed to complete the adoption.
At the courthouse in their county, a stepparent can learn about the requirements to adopt, court dates associated with the process, fees that must be paid, and documents that need to be submitted.
For a better understanding of the process and any additional requirements that may apply, it is important to contact the local court for details regarding specifics to your county.
The courthouse may also offer assistance with the adoption process by designating staff, also known as family law facilitators, or volunteers that can provide information and advice.
These court facilitators do not provide legal advice, but they can help the stepparent become aware of the legal requirements and procedures to follow.
For more information, visit the Colorado Court System.
Purchase Stepchild Adoption Court Forms Through a Service
In Colorado, stepparents looking to adopt their stepchild may opt to purchase court forms from an adoption service provider such as Stepparentadoptionforms.com. Such services provide the court forms needed for the adoption process and typically offer tailored stepchild adoption court forms applicable to the state.
These adoption forms packages can include all the necessary documents, instructions, and additional resources to support the stepparent’s understanding of legal requirements.
Moreover, they come in a printable or digital format to make it simpler for them to access and complete the paperwork as needed.
It is essential to remember that these forms and services do not provide legal advice, but they do provide the forms required in the state in which you live and provide instructions on filing the forms.
Visit here for more information on the requirements to adopt in Colorado.
Curious about how much it would cost to adopt your stepchild? We put together an article just for you.
In Colorado, the adoption process is a legally binding procedure that creates a parent-child relationship between an adoptive parent and a child and can be complex and time-consuming.
It is recommended to seek advice from a qualified attorney to ensure all requirements are fulfilled.
Filing of the Petition for Adoption
In Colorado, the adoption procedure begins with the petition for adoption being filed.
The petition has to be submitted in the county where the child resides, and it requires specific data regarding the adoptive parent, the child, and the biological parent.
The following details must be included in the petition:
- Names, locations, and dates of birth of the adopted parent
- The child’s name and dates of birth
- Birthdates, names, and addresses of the biological parents
- The reason for the adoption
- Any further pertinent details, including the child’s present living arrangement, any prior adoptions or court cases involving the child, and any other elements that might influence the adoption.
It’s important to remember that the petition must be submitted to the proper court; otherwise, it risks being rejected.
In order to move forward with the adoption, the court may also ask that additional paperwork be provided, such as a home study, background check, and/or fingerprints.
It is advised to speak with a lawyer or to inquire about specific requirements and procedures with the county court in your area.
Home Study and Background Check
In Colorado, the home study and background check are necessary components of the adoption process. The home study evaluates whether adoptive parents are suited to adopt and confirms that it will be a safe environment for the child.
Additionally, a background check reveals criminal history information and examines potential incidents of previous abuse or neglect.
The residence evaluation is typically accomplished by a certified adoption agency or social worker.
The home study would involve an appraisal of the prospective adoptive parent’s home, way of life, and ability to provide a secure and nurturing atmosphere for the child.
The home study will also include conversations with the prospective adoptive parent, along with any other adults living in the home.
The social worker may also perform a house inspection and consider the relationship between the stepparent and the child.
The background check for the adoptive parent and any other adults living in the home will include a criminal history check, as well as a child abuse and neglect check to ensure that there is no history of mistreatment.
It’s important to note that the home study and background check must be completed before the adoption can be finalized.
If the home study and background check are not completed, the court may not proceed with the adoption.
Additionally, the court may deny the adoption if the home study and background check reveal any negative information about the adoptive parent.
It is important to be aware that it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to complete the home study and background check, as this timeframe will differ depending on the case in question and what the court’s exact demands happen to be.
For this reason, it is suggested that you plan ahead and ask a lawyer or your local court what their requirements are and how they need the process to unfold.
Consent of the Biological Parent
The permission of the natural parent is an essential element of the adoption process in Colorado. The biological parent must agree to the adoption for it to move forward.
If the biological parent is willingly compliant with the adoption, they need to sign a permission form and submit it to the court.
Generally, consent from the biological parent is important in order for the adoption to be finalized, except when the court ends their parental rights.
A notarized consent form, signed by the biological parent, is required in order to legally relinquish their parental rights and consent to the adoption proceeding.
This document must be presented to the court. For stepparent adoption to take place, consent from the non-custodial parent must be given.
If this cannot be obtained, the court can terminate their parental rights and continue with the adoption process.
It should be noted that, depending on the state’s laws, a biological parent may revoke their consent within a certain amount of time after signing the consent form.
Consequently, it is important to research the local county court for more specific requirements and procedures.
It may be necessary for the court to terminate the parental rights of the biological parent if they are deemed unfit, have abandoned the child, or have failed to support them financially.
If the biological parent is unable or unwilling to give their consent and the court finds it is in the best interest of the child, then the adoption process may proceed.
Termination of the Biological Parent’s Rights
The legal termination of a biological parent’s rights is a necessary step for adoption to occur if the parent cannot or will not give consent. This severing of the legal relationship between the parent and child allows for adoption proceedings to take place.
In Colorado, among other places, the following circumstances can result in the termination of parental rights:
- Abuse or neglect
- Mental illness, substance abuse, or incarceration
- Failure to keep in touch with or support the child financially
The court will conduct a hearing to assess whether or not it is in the best interest of the child to terminate the natural parent’s rights.
The natural parent will be allowed to present evidence and speak out against the potential termination of their parental rights.
Once the court makes a determination that such termination is in the child’s best interests, then it will issue an order, thus allowing for an adopted placement to move forward.
The court understands that terminating parental rights is a serious and permanent decision, so it will carefully consider all relevant factors and evidence before making its ruling.
The termination of parental rights is a serious and irreversible court decision based on all relevant evidence and factors, needed for adoption to continue when a biological parent is unable or unwilling to give consent.
Finalization of the Adoption
Completing the adoption is the last step in Colorado’s adoption process. The court then grants a definitive order of adoption, forming a legal bond between the adoptive parent and their adopted child.
After all necessary requirements are fulfilled, the court will conduct a finalization hearing. The biological and adoptive parent as well as the child may be required to attend.
During this hearing, the court will analyze the adoption application and home study report, and any persons involved in the adoption procedure can state their opinion.
Should the court determine that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, a final decree of adoption will be registered with the court.
It is critical to remember that, when the final adoption decree has been issued, the adoptive child will gain the same rights and obligations as a biological one.
The adoption process can be quite involved and take several weeks or months to complete, depending on the situation.
To ensure everything goes smoothly, it’s best to consult a lawyer or your local county court for specific requirements and steps in the process.
Additionally, it’s important to plan ahead and prepare for the timeline of the adoption.
Should I Adopt My Stepchild?
A part of life is that many parents find themselves remarried with stepchildren. You may be asking yourself, should I adopt my stepchild?
You should adopt your stepchild if you are prepared for a lifelong commitment. Adoption is permanent, and you cannot change your mind should you and your spouse later decide to divorce. If you are prepared to love and honor your commitment to your adopted stepchild, you should adopt your stepchild.
If you are considering adopting your stepchild or stepchildren, there are some things you will want to think about before taking the plunge.
It is safe to assume that you love your stepchild, so let’s go over some things to make sure you have covered all your bases.
It is important to remember that adopting your stepchild is a lifelong commitment. You may have a very good marriage now, but even good marriages can turn rocky.
At the beginning of a new marriage, you are in love and over the moon with happiness. Having romantic ideas of how the family dynamics will be is normal and sets a positive path forward.
Just know that you cannot simply change your mind about the adoption down the road if your marriage does not work out.
If you are unwilling to continue the parent/child relationship if your marriage goes south, then you should not adopt your stepchild.
Should the marriage end in divorce, you will still need to have cordial communications with the child’s other parent to co-parent your child.
Other things to consider would be if your marriage ended in divorce, you would be financially responsible for half of the expense of raising the child.
After a divorce, you would still be tied to your spouse for life, as you would both have a child together. Until the child turns 18 years of age, there will still be periods when the child resides with you.
No one wants to think about the possibility of divorce when things feel so right. Statistically, however, about half of all marriages end in divorce.
If you are not willing to make a lifelong commitment to a child, then you should not adopt the child.
Providing you do decide to proceed with the adoption of your stepchild, keep in mind that there are things you will want and need to do afterward to tie up any loose ends.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Adopt My Stepchild?
It’s a common question, do you need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild?
You do not need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild. Visit your local courthouse to acquire the required court forms and a list of requirements. Although you are not required to have an attorney to adopt your stepchild, hiring an attorney for any life-changing event is highly recommended.
You most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild, as the process is a bit less complicated than other types of adoption.
Do-It-Yourself Stepparent Adoption in Colorado
Attorneys are nice to have and can do the leg work for you, but you most certainly do not need an attorney to adopt your stepchild.
If you are feeling a bit lost and want more information on starting your adoption journey, you may want to visit Colorado Adoption Requirements: Complete Guide.
Just keep in mind that many of the requirements will not apply to you if you are already residing with your stepchild.
Providing there is no anticipated legal battle from one of the biological parents, then one would be encouraged to obtain the court forms from your local courthouse, usually available to download online.
You may also wish to contact your local Department of Human Resources to speak to someone about how to process your adoption petition or reach out to your local courthouse.
Most courthouses have what is called a facilitator who helps guide you in the steps you need to take to complete legal processes without a lawyer.
Stepparent Adoption Contested by Biological Parent
Adopting a stepchild involves obtaining the permission of both biological parents. You will need the blessing of your spouse as well as the other parent.
How will the biological parent feel about the idea of a stepparent wanting to adopt their child? This depends on the relationship between the biological parent and the child.
There are times when the other parent will voluntarily terminate their rights to their child. Perhaps there is very little relationship between the parent and child.
If the stepparent has taken on the active parenting role, and if the biological parent recognizes their lack of involvement, they may agree to know the adoption decision is in the best interest of their child.
When the biological parent’s rights are terminated, it also frees them from court-ordered financial obligations. Sadly, this can be a huge motivating factor for some biological parents to voluntarily terminate their rights to their children.
What do you do, though, if the biological parent refuses to give permission and contests the adoption? States will almost always only allow two parents to have parental rights to a child. However, there have been a few cases where the courts have allowed three parents.
States are required to take the parental rights of the biological parent very seriously and will only terminate their parental rights if the parent is proven to be unfit, is not the true biological parent, or has in essence abandoned the child.
A parent can be found to be unfit for several reasons. Examples of an unfit parent can be things like being abusive or neglectful. Are they incarcerated or have they been incarcerated?
Is the biological parent’s home environment safe for this child? What type of people do they hang out with and have visited their homes? Many things can deem a parent unfit.
For a parent to be accused of parental abandonment, the parent must not have spent any time with the child or paid child support in a very long time, usually a year.
If there is a question of paternity and it can be proven through the court system that the “biological” parent is not the parent, after all, that opens the door for adoption possibilities.
However, the rights tend to be placed with the biological parent, so that can be a tricky scenario.
Telling a Child Their Stepparent is Adopting Them
Depending on the age of this child being adopted, you will most certainly be excited to tell them the good news! In some states, a child over a certain age will need to permit to be adopted.
Not telling the child they are being adopted by the stepparent can create mistrust and hurt down the road, so think twice if you were planning on not telling them until later.
I strongly encourage you to not keep the adoption hidden from the child or children. Allow them the opportunity to be excited about being adopted! Involve them in the process and celebrate!
And hats off to you if you are a stepparent considering adopting your stepchild. It takes a huge heart and unconditional love to adopt a child that is not biologically yours.
And when you are helping raise a child, you are already a huge part of their life whether you make it official or not.
What are the Home Study Requirements for Stepparent Adoptions in Colorado?
Prior to permitting an adoption to take place, a home study or home study is a screening of the home and lives of potential adoptive parents.
A home study is needed by legislation in some countries, as well as in all international adoptions. Even though it isn’t legally needed, an adoption agency may insist on it.
For an agency domestic adoption, an international adoption, or second-parent adoption, a home study is necessary.
It is not necessary for stepparent adoptions and may be waived by the court in circumstances of kinship and custody adoptions.
Does the Stepchild Have to Consent to an Adoption in Colorado?
A child who is twelve (12) years and older must provide signed consent to their own adoption in Colorado. Younger children are not required to give their consent.
You are encouraged to proceed with a stepparent adoption during a time when your stepchild will react favorably to knowing you are adopting them.
Important to remember when planning to adopt your stepchild is that it is likely your stepchild has been through quite a lot.
Absent biological parents not voluntarily involved in their child’s life can be a painful emotion to live with for your stepchild.
Another thing to consider is the timing of the stepparent adoption. Was there a divorce previous to your marriage with your stepchild’s parent that your stepchild is still reeling from?
Children often suffer emotionally from the loss of a biological parent. Even a marriage viewed as a positive step forward takes time for a child to adjust to.
Consider letting the dust settle between major life events.
Can a Child Be Adopted Without the Father’s Consent in Colorado?
Under citation code Rev. Stat. § 19-5-207, the father must consent to an adoption in Colorado unless the following apply:
Consent is not required when:
- The parent’s rights have been terminated due to the parent’s unfitness, as outlined in § 19‑3‑604.
- The parent has failed to provide support or has abandoned the child for 1 year.
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those considering growing their family. Trina is a seasoned writer, content creator, and website owner with a passion for unbiased research, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.