In Colorado, only the State of Colorado can bring an action for termination of parental rights. A parent may not give up her or his rights to a child as part of a dissolution of marriage action (also called a divorce). A parent may in Colorado, however, voluntarily give up her or his rights to a child in favor of a stepparent adoption.
Sometimes, a parent becomes physically and emotionally separated from her or his child and, when the custodial parent brings an action for a stepparent adoption, the biological parent agrees to the adoption by the new stepfather or stepmother. The adoption may include an agreement by the custodial relinquishing parent to give up any rights to back child support that has not been paid.
The State of Colorado does not often attempt to terminate parents’ rights. Termination is usually only a last resort in a dependency and neglect case (a proceeding in which there are allegations that a child has been neglected or abused or abandoned), when the parents have failed to comply with a treatment plan and there is no hope of successfully reuniting the children with the parents.
In a stepparent adoption, some judges require that the stepparent have been married to the biological parent for a year prior to finalizing the stepparent adoption.
In a few cases, the biological parent may contest the stepparent adoption. If, however, the biological parent has not exercised parenting time and has not paid child support, often the stepparent adoption will be approved.