Terminating Parental Rights Under Colorado Law: What You Need to Know

February 21, 2022

Terminating Parental Rights Under Colorado Law: What You Need to Know

It is one of the most difficult decisions a person can make, but in some devastating cases, terminating a parent's rights is the best thing for the child. Parental rights termination is a legal process that can be initiated by the state or by the parents themselves. There are several specific laws on the termination of parental rights in Colorado, and the process can be lengthy and complex. If you are considering terminating parental rights, it is important to understand the laws in Colorado and what steps you need to take to terminate parental rights legally and effectively.

What Are Parental Rights?

Parental rights are a set of legal rights and responsibilities that parents have with respect to their children. These rights include the right to care for and make decisions for their children, in addition to physical custody of them.

Parental rights include:

  • The right to have their child live with them
  • The right to make decisions about their child's education and health care
  • The right to be consulted about their child's welfare
  • The right to receive information from the other parent about their child
  • The right to manage a minor child's property and finances

You may notice that most of these rights could also be interpreted as responsibilities a parent has toward their child. Any failure to meet these parental responsibilities can result in the termination of parental rights. Rights can be either eliminated permanently or temporarily suspended depending on the severity of the situation.

What Are Grounds for the Termination of Parental Rights in Colorado?

There are a number of specific grounds for termination or allocation of parental rights in Colorado. The grounds can be broken down into three categories:

Voluntary Termination by the Parents

In some cases, one or both parents may agree that it is in the child's best interest to terminate their parental rights. This is known as a voluntary termination. The parents must agree on all aspects of the termination, including the grounds for termination, the legal process, and who will care for the child after the termination. The parent or parents must also sign an affidavit stating that they understand the consequences of the termination and that they are voluntarily terminating their parental rights.

The Child's Best Interest

The child's best interest is always the court's primary concern when making a decision about the termination of parental rights. The court will consider several factors when determining whether termination is in the best interest of the child, including:

  • The age of the child
  • The child's relationship with the parents
  • The parent's ability to care for the child
  • The child's physical and mental health
  • The child's emotional and developmental needs
  • The child's home, family, and community environment
  • Any history of abuse or neglect by the parents
  • The parents' criminal history
  • The parents' substance abuse history
  • Any other factors that the court deems relevant

Abandonment

Abandonment of a child is also grounds for termination of parental rights in Colorado. Abandonment occurs when the parent has failed to provide basic needs for the child, including food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. The parent must also have failed to make a reasonable effort to maintain contact with the child. Abandonment can also occur if the parent has placed the child in the care of someone else without making arrangements for the child's care or support.

These three categories are the main grounds for the termination of parental rights in Colorado. However, other grounds may be applicable in specific cases that a family lawyer can help you understand.

What Are the Alternatives to Parental Rights Termination?

In some cases, it may be possible to achieve the same goal as termination of parental rights without completely terminating the parent's legal relationship with the child. This can be done through a legal process known as adoption or guardianship.

  • Adoption is a permanent legal process that severs the legal relationship between the child and the birth parents and establishes a new legal relationship between the child and the adoptive parents. After an adoption is finalized, the birth parents will have no legal rights or responsibilities to the child.
  • Guardianship is a legal process that gives someone other than the parent the legal right to make decisions for the child. Guardianship can be temporary or permanent, depending on the circumstances. The parent will still have some legal rights and responsibilities to the child, but the guardian will have the authority to make decisions about the child's care and upbringing.

A family lawyer can help you understand the alternatives to termination of parental rights and help you decide which option is best for your family.

FAQ

Q: How hard is it to terminate parental rights in Colorado?

A: The grounds for termination of parental rights in Colorado are very specific. Under clear and convincing evidence, it is possible to successfully terminate parental rights without much hassle.

Q: How long does it take before parental rights are terminated?

A: The process of termination of parental rights can vary in length, depending on the specific case. However, it typically takes a minimum of six months to be in effect.

Q: How long does a parent have to be absent for it to be considered abandonment in Colorado?

A: In Colorado, abandonment occurs when the parent has failed to provide basic needs for the child, including food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. The parent must also have failed to make a reasonable effort to maintain contact with the child. If any of these conditions extend past six months, it is grounds for termination of parental rights.

Q: Is It possible to reverse the termination of parental rights?

A: Colorado is one of the few states that allows for the termination of parental rights to be reversed. This is known as a "reinstatement of parental rights." It occurs in scenarios where the parent has fulfilled the court's conditions, such as drug treatment, anger management classes, or parenting classes. The parent must also demonstrate that they have a stable housing situation, can provide for the child financially, and have addressed any other issues that originally led to the termination of parental rights.

Contact Johnson Law Group for Parental Rights Termination Support

If you are considering terminating parental rights, it is crucial to seek the advice of a qualified family law attorney. The attorneys at Johnson Law Group have years of experience helping families navigate the termination process. We understand that this is a difficult decision, and we are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us today to begin the conversation. We look forward to helping you create a bright future for your family.

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