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Child Custody for Same-Sex Couples in Colorado

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Category: Child Custody | LGBT

Child Custody for Same-Sex Couples in Colorado

It has been over two years since Colorado legalized same-sex marriage, with the country following less than a year later. While these laws have made great progress, the actual processes that surround the law (and surround family law in general) still make everyday court appearances harder for same-sex couples than heterosexual couples.

 

Simply put, as judges and state laws are still adjusting to different parental situations and the presence of other possible biological parents, child custody cases can be more frustrating for same-sex parents than for other couples.

 

Before we dive into same-sex divorce and child custody, however, let’s rewind a bit to discuss parenthood – legal parenthood. This is something that can be incredibly important in determining how involved you are in your child’s life in the event you split from your partner.

 

Child Custody for Same-Sex Couples in Colorado

 

If you and your partner conceived through artificial insemination, a surrogate, or another method, and one of you is already the biological or legal parent of the child, the other partner has options for becoming the child’s other legal parent.

 

It is easier in Colorado than in many states to obtain legal parenthood while in a same-sex relationship, as there are two avenues by which this can be done:

 

  • Adoption: Colorado allows same-sex couples two different options for adopting your spouse’s child: stepparent adoption, and second parent adoption. Typically, stepparent adoptions are easier to obtain and take less time than second parent adoptions. But second parent adoptions are important to consider because they are open to couples in civil unions or who are not currently married.
  • Maternity/Paternity Petition: Paternity or maternity petitions can be found online. They often require the signature of both the parent and the child’s biological parent.

 

As a legal parent, you are entitled to more rights, something you’ll see clearly as we talk more about child custody below.

 

How Same-Sex Child Custody Works in Colorado

 

Denver LGBT Family Lawyer

If Both Parents Are Legal Parents: child custody decisions will be made in the same process that they would for heterosexual couples. For more information on how these decisions are made, check out one of our previous blog posts.

 

If Only One Parent Is a Legal Parent: As of 2016, less than half of the states in the U.S. allow non-biological or non-adoptive parents to seek custody of a child during divorce proceedings. Colorado is one of those states.

 

If you are not already a legal parent at the time of the divorce proceedings, you will need to file a paternity or maternity petition and bring it to court when proceedings begin. A judge can make a parent a legal parent after these petitions are filled out and signed. Filing these petitions is a much easier and cost-effective method than adoption, and will make divorce and child custody proceedings smoother.

 

Making Child Custody Decisions Out of Court:

 

For any two parents going through the divorce process, making decisions about child custody can be much less stressful outside of the courtroom. You and your partner may not be seeing eye-to-eye right now, but coming to mutual agreement can help you to avoid the stress of hammering out your rights in court and potentially ending up with a child custody agreement that will not work for your relationships. If you and your ex are having trouble coming to these decisions on your own, you may benefit from mediation.

 

Whether you are trying to establish your legal status as a parent or looking to gain child custody, being forced to navigate new laws should not hinder your ability to see your child after a divorce. For help understanding the ins and outs of Colorado child custody, give us a call today.

 

About the Author:

 

Vernon Ready is an award-winning Colorado lawyer with an in-depth understanding of all areas of family law, estate planning, and personal injury. His energetic and aggressive advocacy approach allow him to successfully navigate complex cases, including high asset divorce and complicated custody issues. During his time at the University of Colorado Law School, Ready won numerous awards for his trial advocacy skills. Since being admitted to practice in 2009, Ready has become well-known throughout Denver and the state for the passionate defense of his clients and his unparalleled understanding of the law.