Prior to the passage of the Colorado Civil Union Act and the subsequent Obergefell marriage equality decision, same-sex couples were limited in their options for establishing legal parental rights to their children:
Adoption – If an LGBTQ couple wants to adopt an unrelated child, and is not married or in a civil union, they will need to go through the adoption process twice. One parent would adopt the child, and after that adoption was complete, the other parent could utilize the Second-Parent Adoption process. If the couple is married or in a civil union they will be able to, and are required to, do a joint adoption.
Second-Parent Adoption – This procedure would apply if you and the legal parent are not married or in a civil union. Colorado law provides that a second parent may adopt a child, with the consent of a single parent if there is no other legal parent. Under this procedure, anyone can share parental rights with the original parent, including the biological parent’s same-sex partner or a grandparent. Second-Parent Adoption requires the adopting parent to undergo 3 separate background checks, as well as a home study visit and completion of a parenting training course.
With the passage of the Colorado Civil Union Act and the subsequent ruling affirming marriage equality, same-sex couples obtained additional options for establishing their legal parental rights. Note, the Second-Parent Adoption process is still available and is a valuable tool in some circumstances. However, for couples that are in a Civil Union or Marriage there are additional options for establishing parental rights:
Step-Parent Adoption – A couple can utilize the Step-Parent Adoption process when one partner to the Civil Union or Marriage is the legal parent (natural or adoptive) of the child and the child is available for adoption by a step-parent. This process also requires 3 background checks, but it does NOT require a homestudy or a parent training course.
Child conceived after the Civil Union or born during the Marriage – If a party to a Civil Union conceives a child after the Civil Union, or if a child is born at any time during the Marriage, that child is presumed to be the child of both parties to the Civil Union/Marriage. This is a presumption and can be rebutted, so it is recommended that a non-birth parent consider solidifying the legal parental rights through the legal process. This is process is fairly simple and does not require any background checks. It results in a Court Order that must be recognized in all 50 states.
For more information on same-sex couples and parental rights, please contact our office.