Family law is complex. It encompasses everything from prenuptial agreements, to separation and divorce, to child custody and adoptions.
In Colorado, child adoption laws are housed in what is known as the Colorado Children’s Code. They are specific in details, but, in all instances, adoptions must occur through the court system. Here are the key laws that impact each type of adoption potential parents may seek.
Children under the age of 18 may be adopted only through a court procedure, no matter how that adoption has begun – private, agency, stepparent, etc. And all children aged 12 or older must consent to that adoption.
There are also some specific laws that apply to the relationships between the adoptive parents. For example, unmarried couples in a civil union have the right to adopt, as well as same-sex couples.
The adoption process requires that both potential parents in the proceedings petition the court. The exception to this is when one spouse or partner is already a natural or adoptive parent of the child. And there are other important details to adoption law. Here are just a few:
- Out-of-state couples can finalize adoptions in Colorado, but must use a state-licensed agency to do so, and that adoption must be approved in a Colorado court.
- Adoptive parents can use paid intermediaries, but only if they are licensed and recognized child placement agencies.
- In the case of private adoptions, the court will approve the types of medical, legal, or counseling services that may be paid to the birth mother.
- Birth parents can consent to adoption prior to birth, but cannot file with the court until four days after the birth.
- Consent on the part of birth parents can be revoked, only if they are able to prove fraud or duress and must be filed within 90 days of the adoption. Judges have quite a bit of leeway in these decisions, which they base upon the child’s best interests.
- International adoptions also carry very specific requirements for court petitioning, which are quite complex.
- There are also specific regulations regarding adult and stepparent adoptions. Find more detailed information here.
If you're starting to see that you'll need a qualified family law attorney to help you through your adoption process, you're absolutely correct. Adoption is not a simple thing.
When divorces occur that involve children, both parties typically use a divorce attorney to work out the details of child custody. In other instances, one of the natural parents has died. When a custodial parent remarries, the new spouse or partner may want to adopt the minor children from the previous marriage, which is possible in the following circumstances:
- The other natural parent agrees to give up his/her parental rights, or
- The other natural parent has died.
- If the child is 12 or older, s/he must consent to the adoption.
Child adoption is complicated; each case has its own set of special circumstances. It's important to use an experienced family lawyer so the process goes smoothly. Our Denver family law firm would be delighted to advise you on your case.