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Understanding Termination of Parental Rights

There are a variety of issues in Colorado that arise in terminating parental rights of a child. Pregnancy can occur unexpectedly and lead to situations where a child is born and supported by another parent not biologically related to them. Other times, a biological parent may not be able to support a child or provide for their care. Courts in Colorado will look at the evidence surrounding these situations to determine if termination is in the best interests of the child. Below are a few commonly used ways in which a biological parent’s parental rights are terminated.

Stepparent Adoption

Father and SonOne of the common ways in which parental rights can be terminated is in the process of a stepparent adoption. In certain situations, legal termination of parental rights of a biological parent can be sought when a parent goes on to marry an individual who becomes the stepparent of the child. This is most common when the other biological parent does not have contact with nor much of a relationship with the child, Courts will consider termination of the biological parent’s rights in addition to an adoption by the stepparent.

Colorado family courts will evaluate the involvement, if any, of the biological parent in the child’s life and the relationship between the stepparent and the child. Stepparent adoption allows the stepparent to have all the rights and responsibilities of a biological parent.

If you are in a position where you are a stepparent who is interested in taking on the legal responsibility of a parent for a child there are many questions to consider. In the event of a separation or divorce, the adopting stepparent could be granted parenting time and be ordered to pay child support.

Abandonment and Incidents of Violence

Abandonment of the child and failure to provide emotional and financial support can be a basis for termination. It must be shown that the parent you are seeking to terminate either completely left the child with no intent to return or failed to provide support for the child. This is an unfortunate reality in many situations where a parent has chosen to not be present in the child’s life.

Incidents of violence in the home can be grounds for termination. Examples include child abuse against the child or a sibling and domestic violence against a spouse or family member. If a parent’s actions have placed the child, sibling or member of the household in danger, risk of immediate harm or actual trauma, then you may be able to show that termination of the offending parent’s rights are in the best interest of the child. Cases involving neglect of the child are treated differently and are defined separately under Colorado law.

undefinedWhat happens in a termination proceeding?

Colorado Courts will consider termination proceedings for involuntary termination of parental rights and also those involving voluntary, or consensual, termination of parental rights. When reviewing involuntary termination cases, Colorado Courts will look for clear and convincing evidence to determine fitness of a parent and the best interests of the child. In voluntary situations, such as a stepparent adoption, Colorado Courts will often allow a biological parent to voluntarily relinquish their rights when there is another parent willing to support the child.

Do you have questions about terminating parental rights?

If you or someone you know is interested in seeking information regarding termination of parental rights or advice on defending their rights in a termination proceeding, you should discuss your situation with an experienced family law attorney. Voluntarily terminating your rights as a parent is a big decision and should not be made without being well informed. It is important to know the law in Colorado and understand how it applies to your situation. Here at Cantafio & Song PLLC, our family lawyers are well versed on Colorado parental termination laws. If you have questions or would like to set up a consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys, please contact us.

Deanna Sinclair is a domestic relations attorney in Denver, Colorado, at Cantafio & Song PLLC. Having practiced in many jurisdictions, Deanna uses her experience to help her clients navigate the unknowns of domestic relation matters. She is focused on providing comprehensive, compassionate and effective representation with her clients. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Colorado attorney please contact Cantafio and Song, PLLC Cantafio at (303) 813-1200.

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