Step Parent Adoptions

Adoption comes in many types, but one common format in Colorado is stepparent adoption. If you are caring for the child of your spouse and wish to formally adopt him or her, the experienced team at The Burnham Law Firm can help you with this process. Learn more about stepparent adoption in this state so you have an idea of what to expect and what you will need to do.

A basic overview

In Colorado, you can petition the court to adopt your stepchild if that child’s biological parent has passed away or abandoned the child. You can also petition if the biological parent has not paid child support for a year more and it’s unlikely that the parent will start paying support in the future. You will need your spouse’s consent and the consent of your stepchild if he or she is over 12 years old. Since the parental rights of the biological parent will be terminated, you will need his or her consent formally in writing, too. You’ll also have to show the court that you are entirely fit to be the legal parent of your stepchild.

If you are unable to obtain consent from the biological parent, either because you can’t get into contact with him or her or the biological parent is refusing to consent, you will need to prove to the court that terminating that parent’s rights will be in the child’s best interest. In this scenario, the assistance of an attorney is highly recommended as you will need to properly present your case and evidence in court. Colorado takes the termination of parental rights very seriously, and the court will not do so unless it is clear that the parent’s rights being terminated will benefit the child. It’s crucial you are prepared to show the court that the biological parent should no longer have any rights to your stepchild if you want the adoption to be granted.


A child’s best interest

The court determines what is actually in the child’s best interest after considering many different factors, including the current and future effects of the adoption, the stability of the family, the child’s interactions with and emotional ties to the parties involved, the child’s age, his or her adjustment to the living situation and the physical and mental health of the stepparent who wants to adopt and other parties who are involved. You will need to cooperate freely with this part of the process and provide all of the information the court requests of you. The more responsive you are to the court’s requests, the more smooththe process will be.

Background and criminal history checks

Despite living with and caring for the stepchild, Colorado law requires that the adopting step parent to pass background checks in order to adopt their stepchild. Colorado does not allow people who were convicted of a felony involving violence, child abuse or unlawful sexual behavior to adopt any child. Your attorney will let you know which types of federal and state background and record checks you need to have done for the adoption, and he or she can also address any concerns or questions you have about this requirement.

Military stepparents

If you wish to adopt your stepchild and are a member of the Armed Forces, you need to keep in mind that you have to file a petition in what is considered the child’s home state. If your stepchild has been living in the state of Colorado for at least six months, Colorado would be his or her home state. Consult with your attorney if you’re not sure where you should file your petition.

Post-adoption considerations

Once you have legally adopted your stepchild, you will have the same parental rights and responsibilities a biological parent would have. Since the biological parent’s rights have been terminated, he or she will no longer be legally responsible for the child’s care as those duties and obligations will fall to you as soon as the adoption is granted. This also means that if you divorce or separate from your spouse, you may be responsible for paying child support to your spouse for your stepchild. You would also be able to receive custody and parenting time with your stepchild.

When you’re caring for your stepchild and raising him or her in your home and the other biological parent isn’t a good influence or is not around at all, formalizing the parent-child relationship between yourself and your stepchild legally does make sense. Even though you are his or her stepparent, you still need to go through the proper process and meet all requirements for a successful adoption. Speak to our competent staff of professionals at The Burnham Law Firm for assistance with your stepchild adoption to help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.