Termination of parental rights in Colorado can be voluntary or involuntary, depending on your specific circumstances. In either case, the decision to give up parental rights should not be taken lightly.
After all, by proceeding with this legal action, you will no longer be present in your child's life at full capacity. In general, termination of parental rights means that the terminated parent no longer has any financial responsibility for the child. However, you also give up any right to visit your child or to take part in any decisions related to that their upbringing, education, medical care, etc.
When and How to Give Up Parental Rights
You may have several reasons for giving up your parental rights voluntary:
- If your former spouse remarries and their new party decides to adopt the child, and you are fully on-board with this decision.
- If you believe that you cannot fully provide for the child’s welfare and upbringing and wish to step down.
No matter which reasons you have, mind that the process of relinquishing parental rights (the legal term in Colorado) is not easy, and there are several steps involved. The importance of a lawyer to act as both advisor and to walk the parent through the process is pretty critical.
Before the court will consider your relinquishment request, several conditions must be met
Step 1: Attend Court-Appointed Counseling
During this counseling session, you’ll have to explain your motivation for the relinquishment request. The counselor, in turn, will further walk you through the entire process and answer any questions you have. Afterward, they will provide a concluding report to the judge.
Step 2: Prepare the Legal Forms
After the counseling part, you'll have to prepare several required legal documents for the court:
- A petition for relinquishment
- Your child’s original birth certificate or a copy of the birth certificate application.
- A signed affidavit stating that there is no duress, fraud, influence, or pressure from any outside party, including a current or former spouse.
Depending on your circumstances, the court may also request additional documents such as:
- The aforementioned relinquishment counseling report
- A personal statement from you regarding any assistance, gifts or monetary support that may have anything to do with giving up the child.
- An assessment of the adoptive family
- Your personal social/medical history.
Step 3: Attend the Court Hearing
Both parents will have to sign documents that they agree with the termination. Next, there will be a court hearing on the matter, with only one exception. If the child is under the age of one, the court hearing may be forgone if the parent cannot be found or expresses no objection.
Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights
You can also lose your parental rights involuntarily. Usually, this happens when the court deems a parent unfit for either of the following reasons:
- Abuse or neglect of the child or any of the child’s siblings
- Endangerment of a child’s well-being due to parent behavior
- Long-term imprisonment.
In such cases, it is the custodial parent who needs to file a petition for the involuntary termination of parental rights. This process can be more challenging both on emotional and legal levels, so seek professional attorney advice early on!
Remember: Giving up your parental rights is a major decision that encompasses several legal steps. Colorado courts want to ensure that you are taking the matter seriously and fully understand the consequences of your relinquishment. Thus, if you are in doubt, it's best to get advice from a qualified family attorney.