Colorado Court Rules Child Abandonment Must be Intentional
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) February 7, 2012 – The Colorado Supreme Court recently decided that for a new stepparent to formally adopt a child, the child’s biological parent would need to more than abandon the child for a year, but would need to intend to abandon the child.
In this case, the child’s stepfather wants to adopt the child. Colorado law says the child’s biological father needs to give up any parental rights. The child’s biological father refused, so the stepfather then needed to prove that the biological father had abandoned the child.
The law says a child is available for adoption if he or she has been abandoned for a full year. The trial court found that the father had abandoned the child and awarded permission to the stepfather to adopt. The biological father appealed and the appellate court overturned the decision finding that the abandonment was precluded because the father had filed motions for parenting time during the divorce proceedings. The Colorado Supreme Court sent the case back to the trial court to determine whether the biological father intended to abandon the child, who he had only seen a few times since the divorce.
“In order to assert parental rights, fathers or mothers must make a constant effort to see the child,” said Denver child custody attorney Bill Thode. “The court will look at how hard a parent tries to be a part of the child’s life. Sometimes life circumstances make it difficult, but a parent has to show that they tried.”
The state Supreme Court found that there was conflicting evidence as to whether the biological father had abandoned the child. He had no contact with the child for an extended period of time, but he had filed parenting-time motions in the relevant time period.
The case was sent back to the trial court to determine which was a better indication of the biological father’s true intent – the extended absence or the parenting-time paperwork.
“Child custody cases can require a thorough understanding of the law,” Thode said. “A qualified attorney can make the difference to make sure that parents get to spend time with their children.”
Thode Law Firm, P.C.
201 Steele Street, Suite 201
Denver, CO 80206
Call: (303) 330-0425
View Larger Map