Individuals may wonder when a stepparent may legally adopt the biological child of their marital partner.
Colorado recognizes the special circumstances of stepparents with laws that specifically relate to stepparent adoptions. These laws require that the natural parent be legally married to the stepparent. Co-habitation alone is insufficient to trigger laws that are specific to stepparents however other adoption laws can apply.
There are four avenues for adoption by a stepparent. All avenues require the written and verified consent of the stepparent’s marital partner (the child’s natural parent) and the consent of the child to be adopted if they are 12 years of age or older. If these requirements are met then the child is available for adoption by the stepparent if:
The other natural parent is deceased, or
The other natural parent has had his or her parent-child legal relationship terminated by an order of the court, or
The other natural parent has met the statue’s requirements to voluntarily relinquish their parent-child legal relationship, or
The stepparent’s marital partner files an affidavit or gives sworn testimony that the other birth parent has abandoned the child for a period of one year or more or that the other birth parent has failed without cause to provide reasonable support for such child for a period of one year or more.
The issue of what constitutes abandonment or lack of reasonable support is an issue of fact for the court to decide based upon the totality of the circumstances viewed in light of the best interest of the child. The period in both cases must include a consecutive 12- month period prior to filing the affidavit with the court.
The other natural parent must be notified of the stepparent adoption proceeding and has the right to refute the evidence of abandonment or failure to provide reasonable support. If the location of the other parent is unattainable then notice can be given by publication.