Understanding the step-parent adoption process in Colorado

Although step-parent adoption may be a lengthy process, it ultimately has many benefits for everyone involved.

The definition of a traditional family in America has transformed through the years. The country now encompasses many different types of families, from single-parent households to combined families. In some families, step-parents may fill the role of loving parent and provider when birth parents fail to take responsibility for their children. It may be in the best interest of the child for the step-parent to petition for adoption in Colorado. Not only does step-parent adoption offer several benefits for the child, but it is also a way for step-parents to show their love by legalizing the parent-child relationship.

Pre-requisites to step-parent adoption

Before the step-parent can file for adoption in Colorado, they must meet several pre-requisites. First they must be married to the custodial parent and be at least 21 years old. The step-parent must also make sure that the non-custodial birth parent has either voluntarily consented to their parent-child legal relationship being terminated or that legal grounds exists to involuntarily terminate their parental rights. Such grounds include either the birth parent has abandoned the child for a period of one year or more or the birth parent has failed without cause to provide reasonable support for a period of one year or more and is unlikely to pay support in the future.

The court must also make a best interests determination based on many factors, including but not limited to, the family stability, the present and future effects of adoption, the child's emotional ties and interaction with the parties, the child's adjustment to the living situation, the child's age, and the mental and physical health and of the stepparent and other parties. The stepparent need to prove by clear and convincing evidence that being adopted is in the best interest of the child.

The step-parent wishing to adopt the child must also perform several criminal and human services background checks. Prospective step-parents who have been convicted of certain felony crimes involving violence, unlawful sexual behavior or child abuse are not allowed to adopt a child. Colorado courts always put the health and needs of the child first before considering an adoption.

Benefits to the child

Children who are adopted by their step-parents are often exposed to the following benefits:

  • They are able to have the same last name as the rest of the family members.
  • They gain a sense of belonging and importance in the family.
  • They are able to collect life insurance benefits and are entitled to any other inheritance the step-parent may leave behind.
  • They are eligible for medical, dental and other health care coverage provided by the step-parent.
  • They are eligible to receive social security death benefits from their step-parent.
  • They are eligible to received military benefits through their step-parent.

Children who have lived without one of their parents for a substantial period of time may further experience positive changes in their life when that space is filled by a loving and legal step-parent.

Contacting an attorney

In Colorado, step-parent adoption involves numerous forms, background checks, court appearances, and other legal appointments. A family law attorney who has a thorough knowledge of the adoption process may be extremely helpful to people filing for adoption of their step-child, whether it be a contested or non-contested case. Skilled and experienced legal counsel is often vital to ensure that the process is smooth and the result is final and irrevocable.

Keywords: adoption, step-parent, child