Adoptions

Danielsen WesthoffAdopting a child is often an exciting, but stressful process. The attorneys at Danielsen Westhoff have tried countless adoption cases and are well versed in all aspects of adoption law. In fact, Attorney Daniel Westhoff successfully argued a landmark adoption case in front of the Colorado Supreme Court and created new law that directly impacts the outcome of future adoption cases throughout Colorado. Since that time, the attorneys at Danielsen Westhoff have traveled throughout Colorado to assist clients in obtaining adoptions. If you have adoption questions, contact the attorneys at Danielsen Westhoff today.

Stepparent, Kinship, and Custodial Adoptions
When many people think of adoptions, they think of using an adoption agency to adopt a child from a birth mother that they do not know and have no connection to. In cases like these, a prospective adoptive parent's profile is often listed online and the birth mother reviews the profile, selecting the prospective parent(s) that she feels most comfortable with. These adoptions are commonly known as agency adoptions and they are often expensive and not always successful. However, they are necessary when a prospective adoptive parent(s) has no connection to the birth mother or the child.

In Colorado, the law allows for several options for adoptions when there is a connection between the prospective adoptive parent(s) and the child. Specifically, there are three types of adoptions under this scenario: Stepparent Adoptions, Kinship Adoptions, and Custodial Adoptions. These three types of adoption are procedurally easier than an agency adoption and are generally cheaper. These adoptions, however, are only afforded to those that meet certain requirements. These adoptions give a certain "standing" or rights to the prospective adoptive parent(s) to petition for the adoption before a Colorado Court.

Step-Parent Adoption Requirements
There are several requirements that prospective adoptive parent must meet in order to be eligible for a step-parent adoption. A list of these requirements is listed below:

  1. Married to custodial parent (Can be same sex spouse)
  2. Petitioner must be at least 21 years old
  3. Filed in County where Petitioner lives
  4. Consent of custodial parent (spouse)
  5. Consent of child if 12 years old or older
  6. Child must be under the age of 18 - children age 18 to 21 can be adopted as children with approval of court.
  7. Background checks (FBI, CBI, TRAILS) - A prospective adoptive parent need not have a completely clean record. Some crimes are total bar to adoption, but some can be overcome with judge's discretion.
  8. Child must not be the subject of a pending dependency and neglect proceeding
  9. Formal service of process on non-custodial parent - If you cannot find the non-custodial parent, you can petition court for notice by publication.
  10. Consent of non-custodial parent, if given - if not:
    a. Failure to pay reasonable support without excuse for one-year period immediately before filing adoption, or
    b. Abandonment for one-year period immediately before filing
  11. Attended adoption hearing with a Judge - A Judge must find that adoption is in child's best interests regardless of consent of all parties

Kinship Adoption Requirements
The requirements of a kinship adoption are very similar to those of a step-parent adoption, but the prospective adoptive parent(s) must be a family member to the child. The term "family member" is defined as a grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, half sibling, or 1st cousin of the child. The family member must have had the child in their physical custody for a period of one year or more. There need not be any formal Court order giving the prospective adoptive parent(s) legal custody of the child.

Custodial Adoption Requirements
For a custodial adoption, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must have obtained legal custody of the child to be adopted and must have had the child in their care for a period of one year or more. Legal custody may have been established through a Domestic Relations, Probate, or Juvenile case. The other requirements of a custodial adoption are very similar to those of a step-parent and a kinship adoption.

If you are contemplating an adoption or have questions about the adoption process, please email us to schedule a free initial appointment.