Broomfield Adoption Attorney
Adopting a child is often an exciting, but stressful process. The attorneys at Danielsen Westhoff, PC, have tried countless adoption cases and are well-versed in all aspects of adoption law. In fact, attorney Danielsen Westhoff successfully argued a landmark adoption case in front of the Colorado Supreme Court and created a new law that directly impacts the outcome of future adoption cases throughout Colorado.
Since that time, the Broomfield-based lawyers at Danielsen Westhoff, PC, have traveled throughout Colorado to assist clients in obtaining adoptions. If you have adoption questions, contact the Broomfield adoption attorney at Danielsen Westhoff, PC, today.
How Can an Adoption Attorney Help You?
Prospective parents can quickly be overwhelmed by the adoption process. Regardless of the type of adoption chosen, there are legal requirements to meet and emotional hurdles to overcome.
Do not face potential adoption obstacles alone. The experienced Broomfield family law attorneys at Danielsen Westhoff, PC, are here to assist and navigate you through the Colorado court system and every stage of your adoption.
Let our skilled Broomfield adoption attorneys explain the Colorado adoption process to you and handle all of your court filings. At Danielsen Westhoff, PC, we can also do the following on your behalf:
- Negotiate the terms of a private or agency adoption
- Obtain parental consent for adoption
- Secure the termination of parental rights
- Guide you through the home study process
- Ensure you fulfill all adoption requirements
- Represent you in court hearings
- Prepare and submit your final adoption orders to the court for approval
Danielsen Westhoff, PC, will work tirelessly to make your adoption experience as smooth and efficient as possible. Reach out to our Broomfield office now to schedule your consultation with an adoption attorney.
What is Adoption?
According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, adoption is the legal process where birth parents’ rights are terminated and permanently awarded to adoptive parents. Once a child is adopted, the adoptive parents assume all the rights and responsibilities for the child, and a birth parent cannot reclaim parental rights.
Adoption is Different than Guardianship or Custody
Guardianship is an appointment from the court to act as a caregiver for a child in the event a parent is:
- Unwilling or unable to provide care
- Agrees to the guardianship
Guardianships do not sever the rights and responsibilities of the birth parent(s) and may be terminated or modified. A child’s legal custodian has specific rights and responsibilities in relation to a child but is less likely than a guardian to receive government services in the process.
Who Can Adopt a Child in Colorado?
Any person over 21 can adopt a child in Colorado. A person under 21 may adopt with special permission from the court.
Married people must file joint petitions for adoption. Unmarried couples wishing to adopt may file for co-parent adoption.
Can a Legal Custodian or Guardian of a Child Adopt?
A non-family member with legal custody or guardianship of a child can petition the court for adoption under special circumstances. These are as follows:
- The birth parents have abandoned the child for one year or more
- The birth parents have failed to provide reasonable support for the child, such as failure to pay child support for one year or more
Adoption Restrictions in Colorado
Any person with a felony conviction for child neglect or abuse, spousal abuse, or child pornography cannot adopt a child in Colorado. Nor can any person adopt who has violated an order of protection or committed any of the following:
- Any crime against a child
- Any crime of domestic violence
- Violent crime or sexual assault
- Felony battery or physical assault
- Felony drug-related crimes in the last five years
However, persons convicted of misdemeanors in any of the above areas may seek court approval for adoption.
Types of Adoptions in Colorado
Adoptions in Colorado may be domestic or international. A domestic adoption is an adoption of a child who resides within the United States. Whereas an international adoption is an adoption of a child who lives in another country.
An adoption may be open or closed. An open adoption is one in which the biological parents of an adopted child can maintain contact with that child. A closed adoption disallows communication and visitation between the biological parents and the child.
Adoptions may be private or state. In a private adoption, a biological parent relinquishes their parental rights directly to the adoptive parent. In a public adoption, the state assumes all parental responsibilities while a child is awaiting adoption.
Agency adoptions are a type of private adoption. There are other types of adoption separate from agencies that qualify for special procedural considerations in Colorado as highlighted below.
When many people think of adoption, 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 has no connection to the birth mother or the child.
Stepparent, Kinship And Custodial Adoptions
In Colorado, the law allows 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.
While these three types of adoptions are procedurally easier than agency adoptions and are generally cheaper, they are only afforded to those who meet certain Colorado statutory requirements.
Stepparent Adoption Requirements
There are several requirements that a prospective adoptive parent must meet in order to be eligible for a stepparent adoption. A list of these requirements is listed below:
- Married to custodial parent (can be a same-sex spouse)
- Petitioner must be at least 21 years old
- Filed in county where the petitioner lives
- Consent of custodial parent (spouse)
- Consent of child if 12 years old or older
- Child must be under the age of 18 — children aged 18 to 21 can be adopted as children with approval of court
- 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
- Child must not be the subject of a pending dependency and neglect proceeding
- Formal service of process on noncustodial parent — If you cannot find the noncustodial parent, you can petition court for notice by publication
- Consent of noncustodial parent, if given — if not:
- Failure to pay reasonable support without excuse for one-year period immediately before filing adoption, or
- Abandonment for one-year period immediately before filing
- 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 stepparent 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 first cousin of the child.
A family member can file for the adoption of a child when:
- The parent(s) abandoned the child for at least a year
- The parent(s) failed to sufficiently provide support for at least a year
- The party seeking kinship adoption has legal custody of the child for at least a year
A kinship adoption can provide an adoptive parent with court-ordered child support from the biological parents.
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 domestic relations, probate, or juvenile case.
The other requirements of a custodial adoption are very similar to those of a stepparent and kinship adoption.
Can an Adoption be Annulled or Reversed?
A final decree of adoption can be challenged within 91 days in Colorado. An adopted child, adoptive parents, or biological parents can file for an annulment.
After 91 days, an adoption decree cannot be challenged without clear and convincing evidence that the adoption is not in the best interests of the child. Annulments cannot be obtained for international adoptions.
Why Would an Adoption Be Challenged?
An adoption may be challenged if the biological parent(s) wanted to regain their parental rights due to a failure to notify one or both of them of the termination of parental rights and adoption proceedings. Or, the parent(s) might appeal the final hearing based on legal procedural mishandling by the court.
An adopted child may file for emancipation to remove themselves from their adoptive relationship. Or, the adoptive parents may lose the ability to provide for a child’s health, welfare, or safety, making an annulment in the best interests of the child.
Challenges by Biological Parents
Colorado emphasizes the importance of protecting the biological parent-child relationship. In Colorado, biological parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the custody and care of their children.
The court weighs the totality of circumstances when reviewing an adoption matter. This includes any evidence and testimony presented by the biological parent.
As a prospective parent, it is vital to retain an experienced adoption attorney to present your case for adoption. This includes properly preparing and filing court documents, providing legal notifications of any proceedings to biological parents, and ensuring you meet all necessary Colorado adoption qualifications.
Contact an Experienced Broomfield Adoption Attorney Today
Get started today and discuss your adoption matter with an experienced Broomfield attorney. If you are contemplating adoption or have questions about the adoption process, please call (720) 739-1770 or send Danielsen Westhoff, PC, a message today.