Father’s Rights May Not be Terminated Without Due Process
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) August 21, 2012 - In this case, the father appealed an order ending his parental rights.
“This is an interesting case,” remarked Bill Thode, a Denver child custody lawyer. “In re the Petition of C.L.S., and Lutheran Family Services of Colorado, Inc., Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of E.N.S., a Child, and Concerning J.O., Respondent-Appellant, and N.M. and J.M., Intervenors-Appellees, 252 P.3d 556 (2011) deals with a biological father appealing an order that ended his parental rights.
His rights were severed under section 19-5-103.5, C.R.S.2010, which allows a parent who willingly relinquishes their rights to a child younger than a year old to file to relinquish not only the filer’s rights but those of the other parent.”
In this instance, the mother voluntarily gave up custody to a family service organization. She had full knowledge of the identity of the father, although she had initially suggested the child was the product of a rape and she did not know how to contact him. In the meantime, she texted and emailed the man, telling him his child was dead, despite the baby being placed with adoptive parents. The relinquishment of the child and the termination of the father’s rights was published in a local newspaper, as the local family services organization petitioned the district court to grant termination of the father’s rights.
The father did not respond to the publication within 30 days and was deemed to be in default. The court terminated the parent’s rights, granting legal guardianship and custody to the family services organization to allow them to place the child for adoption.
“The mother subsequently informed the father the child was alive and had been adopted, but did not offer any further information on the matter,” Thode indicated. Based on that information, the father filed a petition to confirm his paternity. He suggested he had not known about the relinquishment or adoption, because the mother had told him the child had died. He proved she knew his identity and where he lived and said she had contacted him when she relinquished the baby but had not said anything about it. The father indicated her fraudulent behavior deprived him of the chance to contest the termination of his parental rights.
The father’s motion was denied. The case went on appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, which found that since the mother did know the identity of the father, her fraudulent actions in not revealing that fact to the court terminated the father’s parental rights without due process. The judgment terminating his rights was considered void, and accordingly, the district court’s decision was reversed, the judgment ending his parental rights was vacated and the case remanded back to district court for a hearing dealing with the father’s alleged surrender of his parental rights.
“Father’s have rights, and it is important that this be respected, no matter how the mother feels,” said Thode.
Thode Law Firm, P.C.
201 Steele Street, Suite 201
Denver, CO 80206
Call: (303) 330-0425
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