Emerging Trends - Step Parent's
STEP PARENT’S RIGHTS
The two areas where stepparents most frequently assert their
rights as parents are with respect to adoptions and visitation.
While the Colorado Legislature has established the general procedures
for both of these actions, there are many other factors considered
by the courts when reviewing a stepparent’s request.
Stepparent adoptions are a very common occurrence in the Colorado
courts. In a stepparent adoption, the stepparent actually becomes
a party to the action by filing the Petition for Adoption. To prevail
in a stepparent adoption, you party must prove: (a) the existence
of a stepparent who consents to the adoption; and (b) the voluntary
or non-voluntary relinquishment of the biological parent’s
relationship with the child. If the biological parent’s relinquishment
is non-voluntary or contested, the Court will conduct a hearing
and must find that there has been an abandonment or failure by
the biological parent to support the child. At the conclusion of
the proceeding, the court will enter a decree of adoption and the
stepparent will be entitled to all rights, privileges and obligations
for a child born in lawful wedlock.
A stepparent may also seek to establish parental rights with a
child after they have divorced or separated from the child’s
biological parent. Under these circumstances, the interested stepparent
will file a petition for visitation in the proper court. In the
Petition, the stepparent must show their relationship with the
child and establish that the child has been in their physical care
for the minimum time period required by statute. A stepparent can
strength his or her case by showing that he or she has supplied
food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities for the child’s
care. After the action is started, the Court will hold a hearing
and determine whether visitation rights are in the best interests
of the child.
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