Are you planning to apply for child custody and support, adopt a child or file for legal guardianship in Colorado? To make the process less complicated, it is best to understand the laws surrounding such concerns. In addition, hiring a child custody lawyer made also help in your endeavor.
Child Custody and Support
Colorado has long ago changed the term child custody with parental responsibilities, which basically follows the same terms. It still involves making a decision as to the following:
- Who the child lives with
- Who makes major decisions on education, health benefits, etc.
- “Parenting time” or visitation right that will be granted to non-custodial parent
The family court decides on parental responsibility based on what is best for the child.
Child Custody Laws
In 1973, Colorado adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
- Joint custody is where the judge order parents to share legal custody or joint parental responsibilities.
- Grandparent visitation rights are recognized by Colorado law but with limitations.
- Child’s wishes will be considered by the law when determining where child custody will be granted. In Colorado, there is no age limit at which the judge must listen to the child’s wish. However, the ultimate decision where a child lives will be made by the court.
Getting a child support order is easier when you are married at the time of the baby’s birth, because the court will “presume” that you and your spouse are the natural parents. But it can get a little tricky where a legal decision has to be made as to who a child’s parents are.
- You can ask the child’s father to admit to voluntary paternity testing
- Ask a court order for the father to submit to genetic testing and present the results to a judge who will make the final decision
If there is a signed “Acknowledgement of Paternity”, there will be no problem even if you and the father of your child were never married.
Once paternity is established, the appropriate amount of child support will then be determined.
To start the adoption process, you must first contact the Adoption Coordinator in your county. You will then have to attend an orientation, complete and submit an application, have a background check performed, attend a county or state-wide training program, and participate in a family assessment, before you can find a child to adopt. It takes one year, after the child lives with you, before the adoption is finalized.
When adopting a step-child
If you want to adopt a step-child, Colorado law specifies that you must get the agreement of the parent/s that the child lives with. In the event that the child doesn’t live with a parent, adoption is only possible under the following circumstances:
- The parent has abandoned the child for a year or more
- The parent/s has not provided support
- If one parent has legal custody, but the non-custodial parent agrees to the adoption
Under the Probate Code, any adult who is 21 years or older can become a legal guardian to a child under 18 years old. Relatives or family friend can serve as a legal guardian. A judge appoints guardianship and child custody to a non-parent.
Legal guardianship is established:
- When parents cannot or will not take care of their children and would agree to let them live with another adult
- When parents cannot provide a safe home
- When a parent/s is in jail
- When a child doesn’t want to live with his parents because of abuse or lack of attention
It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks after a petition is filed before legal guardianship is granted.